Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Meep Pic Of The Week: Slums Of Beverly Hills (1998)

Slums of Beverly Hills
From Fox Searchlight
Original Theatrical Release Date: August 14, 1998

As a big fan of the Coming Of Age Film, I would rank Slums Of Beverly Hills as one of the best to come out of the 90's. This story of a nomad family in 1976 who move to an apartment just inside the Beverly Hills zip code so the kids can go to a good school, is funny, touching and smart. It strikes the perfect balance between the comedy and the more serious, and has a strong central performance by Natasha Lyonne as Vivian.

Alan Arkin and Marisa Tomei are also really good and funny here, in performances that range from subdued to violatile to just plain wacky. Kevin Corrigan (Walking And Talking) shows up in a funny bit as a drug-dealing neighbor with the hots for Vivian.

Watching TV with your bizarre family. It's what you did.

There are a lot of funny moments in Slums (the vibrator dance scene naturally comes to mind), and there's also a lot of honesty. You totally get that the Film was a labor of love for it's Writer/Director Tamara Jenkins. It's pretty hard to draw on your childhood experiences, especially the ones that you might want to forget, and then make them entertaining and funny for others. She pulls it off pretty deftly here.

Sadly, Tamara has only made one other Film since: The Savages from 2007... Another good Movie that drew on personal experience. That one about a brother and sister dealing with their elderly father's declining health. Surprisingly it's not at all dreary, but rather, funny, a little sad and most importantly, honest. Hopefully she makes more Films.

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