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Baltimore 1959, and a gang of male friends in their early twenties reconvene for the wedding of their pal Eddie. Boogie is the hustler of the group, a trainee hairdresser mired in gambling debts. Shreevie is the elder statesman, already married (albeit tetchily) to Beth. Fenwick is the reckless trust-fund prankster; Modell the straight-faced jester; Billy the thoughtful intellectual.
The sole obstacle barring Eddie’s marriage is that he has decreed that his fiancée Elyse must first pass a taxing quiz on pro-football trivia; and there’s the rub. On the threshold of adulthood, the guys remain happiest hanging out together in the neighbourhood diner, feasting on sodas and French fries in gravy, shooting the breeze about pop records, first dates and schoolboy pranks. Maturity, responsibility and real red-blooded women are the challenges they truly fear.
Like the other two entries in Barry Levinson’s ‘Baltimore trilogy’ (Tin Men and Avalon), Diner is a satisfyingly literary creation, free of plot points or grandstanding resolutions. People just talk; true-life characters and situations are lovingly and wittily evoked. Diner is the original ‘guys together’ picture, a template for future hits such as Swingers.
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