Slums of Beverly Hills

PLOT:

Tamara Jenkins wrote and directed this comedy-drama depicting the experience of growing up poor in the 90210 zip code, told from the point of view of Vivian Abramowitz (Natasha Lyonne), a teen who lives a nomadic existence in the outskirts of Beverly Hills with her single, divorced father, Murray (Alan Arkin) and her two young brothers (David Krumholtz, Eli Marienthal). As Murray tries to keep the family in the Beverly Hills school district, the family moves into a one-bedroom apartment in a shabby complex. When sexually liberated Rita (Marisa Tomei), daughter of Murray’s brother Mickey (Carl Reiner), checks out of a drug rehab and moves into the apartment, she becomes a “role model” for the young Vivian.

What people are saying:

“Though hypocritical in the way it sensationalizes sexuality, this serious and funny 1998 movie about a 15-year-old coming to terms with her body and her family in 1976 is, refreshingly, never coy or ironic.” 4 stars

“The kind of comedy that could easily have been a dead-serious drama. Alan Arkin and Natasha Lyonne (drop-dead gorgeous face!) steal the show, with a little comic relief help from Marisa Tomei and Carl Reiner. Interestingly, the writer-director is telling about her own life as a “nomad Jew” in Beverly Hills, according to her interviews. So this has a ring of sad truth to it, but overall, it is a sweet and cuddly dysfunctional family tale.” 3 stars

“Nice little film, if a little unfocused. Treads a fine line with over the top wantonness out of the good taste’s ballpark or just plain silliness, but still at times manages to be genuinely funny. Natasha Lyonne’s sizzling hotness in this is undeniable.” 3 1/2 stars

“It would be hard to imagine suffering through a more improbable, half-baked, doughy cake of a movie than Slums of Beverly Hills. In the concept stage, the movie probably looked promising, including the fact that it includes proven players such as Arkin, Tomei, etc. But it stumbles and bores from start to finish. Even the title is nonsensical. There is no Beverly Hills venue pay-off to be found–surprising since Rodeo Drive, etc. should be ripe for comedic exploitation; the title could just as easily have been Slums of Pomona. Throughout the movie, the actors and actresses seem to be, well, acting; it’s almost like they are still rehearing their lines. Although the unlikely plot and predictable dialogue are so second-rate, great acting could never rescue this forgettable waste of 91 minutes.” 1 star

“An adorable, light hearted coming of age film with wonderful performances from Alan Arkin as a nice, but burned out blue collar father, Marisa Tomei as a loopy kinda-sorta-bad influence cousin, David Krumholtz steals his scenes as a wanna-be entertainer, swiveling his hips in his birthday suit as he croons away to Old Standards in the family’s bland, drab apartment while his sister (Lyonne) comes to terms with her ample bosom and her boring lifestyle as she mildly pines for a neighbor (Kevin Corrigan) It’s the kind of film that could easily be done too seriously or as farce, but strikes a successful balance between dramatic plot points and an overall light hearted, seriocomic tone. Natasha Lyonne steals the show as the beautiful, disaffected and wholly exasperated elder daughter of Arkin, looking for a breast reduction surgery and some direction in life. The film is light, fast, fun and suitable for the whole family- tweenage and up, of course. ” 4 stars

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