This gentle, warm-hearted comedy-drama about a group of six young men in Baltimore in 1959 was director Barry Levinson’s debut feature and it remains among his finest work.
For these young men, the local diner is the world – a place in which to laugh, cry, reminisce, and make plans. This is their golden week, as they celebrate Christmas and face up to adulthood which means saying goodbye to love, and the diner.
Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) is an insecure loudmouth counting the days to his pending wedding on New Year’s Eve. Shrevie (Daniel Stern) is the hometown Everyman beholden to a steady job and a wife named Beth (Ellen Barkin), with whom he lacks an adult friendship.
Boogie (Mickey Rourke) is a night-school law student, womaniser, and hairdresser with a gambling problem. Fenwick (Kevin Bacon) is the rich-kid dropout on the cusp of alcoholism, and Billy (Timothy Daly) is a graduate student with a long-time friendship-turned-pregnancy by way of his old friend Barbara (Kathryn Dowling).
The last of the six is Modell (Paul Reiser), a hanger-on, but someone with an acute sense of comic timing.
It’s a sympathetic portrait of youth on the threshold of adulthood that’s episodic in structure, but not just nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake. It also happens to be rather funny.