Plot: What’s it about?
Yes, before I proceed with this review, I will admit that I’m one of six people in the world that has never seen this movie…not even a bit or a piece. So now that we have that out of the way, I can say that this was a very easy movie for me to watch. I liked it instantly. Director Barry Levinson started out his “Baltimore” movies (which included this, Tin Men, Avalon and Liberty Heights). On the outside Diner is really about nothing. Kevin Bacon describes it perfectly in the documentary, that it’s just a movie about a bunch of guys sitting around doing stupid things and talking all of the time, and he’s right. But Diner goes a lot deeper than that.. Diner concentrates on a group of six guys and a girl. The guys have all been friends since grade school and now have moved on to graduate school or dropped out and are doing their own thing, but still find time to hang out at the local diner and bond. Each character has his or her own struggle (as you might expect), so we’ll start with Eddie (Steve Guttenberg). Ahh…Steve Guttenberg, after this came out he had a promising movie career in front of him, and he was well on his way when he did Ron Howard’s “Cocoon”, but then started to do those “Police Academy” movies. Anyhow, Eddie has figured that he’s been going steady with his girlfriend, who we never meet, for long enough so he’s popped the question. Only drawback is that she has to pass the “Football Quiz”. Now there’s football fans, but this is not sane! She must pass an oral football quiz and if she doesn’t score 65 or higher, the wedding is off…Let’s move onto Shrevie (Daniel Stern). Shrevie is the only married guy in the whole group, and is probably the least happiest. He admits that he can stay up all night and talk with his friends, but can’t talk 5 minutes to his wife. He is also obsessed about records and their flip sides. Boogie (Mickey Rourke) is kind of a loner, who is in law school but has a gambling problem. He spends the movie avoiding hoods who are looking for his bets, and tries to make money off his friends by betting them that he’ll do “so and so” with “so and so”…Fenwick is played by Kevin Bacon. He has a family he doesn’t really like, lives off a trust fund as is very smart, though he has a bit of a drinking problem and can’t communicate very well. That leads us to Billy (Tim Daly) who is in graduate school and wants to marry his girlfriend of six years, but she doesn’t feel the same way. Lastly, there is Modell (Paul Reiser) who, even 20 years ago, was doing his same schtick “you gonna do that, what about that…” seeing him now is annoying, but I bet then it was actualy funny. Yes Diner is a truly classic movie, I would even say it’s along the lines of “Animal House” and “Caddyshack” and this DVD pays tribute to the classic almost as best as it can. There are no major problems to be solved while watching this movie, and most of the characters work out their problems or have them worked out for them. Still, it’s fun to see an entire cast that has gone onto bigger and better things in their very early days. If you haven’t seen Diner, check out this disc, as it’s the only way to see it. Highly recommended.
Video: How does it look?
Diner is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen that looks very good considering the film’s age. The colors are right on, there is some artifacting but that’s to be expected considering the film’s age. I couldn’t detect a layer switch at all and I have to say that the image impressed even me.
Audio: How does it sound?
As with a lot of other movies of that day, Diner is presented in a Dolby Digital Mono mix. The soundtrack isn’t too demanding and I didn’t find any of the dialogue hard to understand. This movie avoids that “broken off” effect that alot of movies have. Overall, a good mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
In addition to the original theatrical trailer, you get information on the rest of the “Baltimore” movies, cast and crew bios and a very intersting 30 minute documentary that features Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser, Tim Daly, Barry Levinson, Daniel Stern, Steve Gutenberg and Ellen Barkin. Overall, this disc could certainly have been a lot worse, but a feature length commentary would have been good as well, considering the cult status of the movie. If you’re curious, pick up this disc and give it a try…it gained a new fan with me.