Diner | Chicago Reader

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Barry Levinson's warm, engaging 1982 comedy pinpoints the moment in American culture when girls began to turn into women and the social ideal shifted from east-coast urban to western pastoral. In the Baltimore of 1959 (photographed in a way that filters out all organic colors), a gang of old high school pals gathers nightly in a diner to joke about the changes in their lives—settling down, getting married. Levinson's dialogue feels fresh and improvised, yet it hits its mark every time, and the performances he gets are complex and original (particularly from Mickey Rourke, who plays a lothario with a late-blooming conscience)—enough so that Levinson's occasional forced “cinematic” effects cause barely a ripple in the smooth, naturalistic surface. With Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Ellen Barkin, and Kevin Bacon. 110 min.

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