Slums of Beverly Hills

1998 coming-of-age comedy

Rating: 14/20

Plot: A father and his two kids move from apartment to apartment with some financial assistance from dad's more-successful brother. Marisa Tomei comes along to show us somebody else's breasts.

Great. I get Alan Alda and Alan Arkin confused anyway because of their names, and now after seeing their movies back-to-back, things are bound to get worse.

Josh recommended this movie that I think I've barely heard of. My problem was that I was promised Marisa Tomei nudity, and the bits they were trying to pass off as Tomei's bits were blatantly body-doubled. It almost would have been comical if it didn't make me so angry.

Nevertheless, I liked this film despite not--I don't think--being the target audience. Arkin's always really good (or maybe that's Alda), and Tomei and Natasha Lyonne who play an older niece and the busty daughter respectively are, too. Tomei nails this playfulness with this undercurrent of something else--hurt, disillusionment, ennui. And Lyonne is good because her questions, her contradictions, and her own disillusionment are made palpable. And they get a terrific dance sequence where they pass a vibrator back and forth which is worth the price of admission all by itself.

The coming-of-age themes always threaten to be a little too slight or a little too quirky, but there's a lot more depth to this than I expected.

One thing I really liked was the movie's texture. The 70s setting brought 70's fashions, designs, and automobiles, but none of it ever got in the way. It blended with the characters well. There's also a grit to the 70s that I felt matched the characters and what they were going through. Arkin's character is one who really wears the 1970s well, and by the end of the movie--which ends with a wink at another scene that I thought was both profound and a little too easy--you just want to root for the guy as he prepares for the 80s. I do love when a movie just kind of plops you down in the middle of their lives, lets you see what they're about for a while, and then leaves you wondering what is going to happen to them. Resolution, after all, is overrated.

Oh, by the way! Tab product placement! It had been a while. As my longtime readers might recall, there was one year where every single movie I watched had a reference to Tab.

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