Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Timothy Daly, Ellen Barkin
Oscar Nominations: Best Original Screenplay (Barry Levinson)
SUMMARY: In the last days of 1959 in Baltimore, a group of friends has assembled for the upcoming wedding of one of their own, Eddie Simmons (Steve Guttenberg). Most of the friends, including Laurence “Shrevie” Schrieber (Daniel Stern), Robert “Boogie” Sheftell (Mickey Rourke) and Timothy Fenwick Jr. (Kevin Bacon) still live in town, but one of them, William “Billy” Howard, is away at school, and has come back to be the best man at the wedding. The group spends most of their nights at a local diner, where they have hung out since high school. All of them are now facing ore adult issues now, though: Eddie is presumably about to get married, but is requiring his fiancée to take a football quiz first: if she passes, they will get married on New Year’s; if she fails, the marriage is off. Shrevie is already married, but both he and his wife are unhappy: at one point Shrevie states that they no longer have anything to talk about. Boogie has decided to go to law school, but has to raise the money first. He is already deeply in debt, having gambled away all of his money. He repeatedly makes more bets, both professional and personal, to cover his tail. Fenwick is from a rich family that has disowned him because of his drinking, though he still has access to his trust fund. Finally, Billy is desperate to finally win over his longtime crush Barbara, though she sees him as only a friend.
Eventually, Billy finds out that Barbara is pregnant with his child, which occurred after a one-night stand. Billy is excited, as he believes that Barbara will marry him now, but she turns him down repeatedly. Shrevie and his wife Beth (Ellen Barkin) get into a big fight, and Beth nearly has an affair with Boogie as a result. Boogie intends to disguise Beth as another woman in order to win a bet, but ultimately decides that he cannot do that to her (or Shrevie), and ends their date before anything happens. In order to get out of debt, Boogie ultimately signs on with a fried of his father’s in a home improvement business. Fenwick continues to drink throughout the film, even getting himself arrested after getting drunk and lying in the manger of a Nativity scene. When he learns of Boogie’s gambling debt, Fenwick tries to convince his older brother to lend him some money, but the brother flatly refuses. Eddie finally gives his fiancée the football quiz, which she fails by two points. Eddie calls off the wedding, but soon decides that he will give her points for a spoiled question, meaning that she passed. The film ends with the wedding: when the bouquet is tossed, it lands on the table where the group of friends are sitting.
MY TAKE: This is referred to as a “coming-of-age” movie, because each of the characters faces some growing-up issues during it. Shrevie (played by the non-Joe Pesci bad guy from Home Alone)and his wife both have to confront the fact that their marriage is not everything they had imagined; Boogie (a now-unrecognizable Mickey Rourke), who is probably already the most adult of the group simply because of his lifestyle, has to figure out how to get out of debt quickly; Billy has a pregnant girlfriend (sort of) to deal with; Fenwick is on his way to being an alcoholic, and will soon grow out of his trust fund, and Eddie has to decide whether or not he really wants to get married, and end one phase of his life. Through all of this, the men hang out at the diner. They also play tricks on each other and help each other out (they try to help Boogie pay off his debt, and attempt to remove Fenwick from the manger before the cops arrive), as good friends should. While it’s not a stunning or ground-breaking movie, it’s a nice portrayal of friendship and camaraderie among men who are all at crucial points in their life.