Welcome to A-Z Movie Reviews. Every Sunday, for the next several months, I will be posting a review of a film in my home movie collection. How it works is, I will be reviewing movies in alphabetical order until I get to the letter Z (Yes, I do have a film that ends in Z). Now I realize there are many ways to alphabetize a film collection, but this is mine so don’t judge me. This is simply for fun.
Often we can be browsing through the channels on our TV, well, that is if you still actually watch regular TV, and then we stumble on a film that has some familiar faces. That’s pretty much what happened to me the first time I watched Slums of Beverly Hills. Natasha Lyonne was the first face I recognized because I had seen her in American Pie. Granted, Slums of Beverly Hills came before that but, you know how it goes when you watch one movie with someone and then you recognize them the next time they pop up in a movie you’ve never seen.
What it’s about:
In 1976, Vivian (Lyonne) a lower-middle-class teenager struggles to cope living with her neurotic family of nomads on the outskirts of Beverly Hills.
“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” – Tolstoy
Slums of Beverly Hills opens with Vivian (Lyonne) reading this quote. She says it is one that’s always stuck out to her. It is the summer of 1976 and 14 year old Vivian is living with her father Murray (Alan Arkin), and her two brothers Ben (David Krumholtz), and Rickey (Eli Marienthal). Murray is a 65 year old man working as a care salesman but because of the energy crisis, he’s been struggling to make ends meet. They move from place to place in Beverly Hills. The kids can’t understand why he won’t just settle in one place. Murray wants his kids to go to the best schools Beverly Hills has to offer even if it means living in some of the cheapest places.
Slums of Beverly Hills centers around Vivian and the craziness she goes through being in a house full of men. She’s trying to figure out who she is while also playing a mother figure of sorts. As she tries to navigate all that has been thrust upon her, unexpectedly her cousin Rita (Marisa Tomei) who has run away from Rehab shows up. Because Vivian’s dad is struggling financially, he is able to talk his brother Mickey (Carl Reiner) who is Rita’s father, into helping him out as long as he takes care of Rita.
This creates more problems for Vivian because now she is left with the task of keeping an eye on Rita who is much older than her I might add, because of her irresponsible ways. Vivian and her family go through a lot of ups and downs and she just wants them to be normal. Eventually she does learn that what she has with them is actually a good thing. She also learns a lot about herself and begins to appreciate the young lady she’s becoming. She starts to embrace everything about her family that she once rejected and finds her own sense of peace.
- I just learned Robert Redford was one of the producers of this movie.
- Oh, the Sizzler, what a classic restaurant that I too spent time at with my dad.
- The struggle of finding the perfect bra. Vivian we feel your pain.
- Any guy who wears a Charles Manson T-shirt basically every day is not a guy I want to hook up with.
- I still remember trying to master Marisa Tomei and Natasha Lyonne’s gibberish lines. Haven’t been able to do it yet.
- “What’s mine is yours” generally doesn’t apply to your cousin sharing her vibrator with you…
- Hooray for Vivian owning her sexuality.
- I really can’t stand when men say having sex with a female who is a virgin puts pressure on them. Like, seriously, conceited much?
- Still don’t think the scene when Murray feels up his own niece was necessary. It came out of left field and made me dislike him. We spend the whole movie thinking he’s doing his best to provide for his kids and then that scene comes and ruins it all. Not sure what director Tamara Jenkins was thinking when she did that scene.
- I think Natasha Lyonne is such a great actress. That is all.