Slums of Beverly Hillsi is a rather pleasant retelling of the rather unpleasant youth of a girl I know. Perhaps you know her too, as it turns out there's quite a whole lot of them.
The film is supposedly set in the 70s, but apparently a coupla decades later very little substantially changed. The bungalow "motel-people-insist-to-pretend-is-your-home", oddly reminescent of this place we used to rent for a few weeks in the Summer at the Black Sea ; the economically untenable living arrangements "for a good school district" ; the deeply neurotic, fundamentally inept males (of all biological ages), incapable of normal or at least easy function no matter the field ; the nonsense piled so high on top of previously unresolved nonsense on top of more nonsense that all you can do in a limited timeframe is have a steak at Denny's and pretend none of it ever happened ; the altogether accidental, deeply dysfunctional, meaningless goop of it all, so very much more America than "government by the people for the people" or "I pledge allegiance" or "I came to this country as a poor ..." or any other statement of oniric aspiration.
Natasha Lyonne is doing ok as a lovable young chick whose breasts keep changing as if the producers couldn't retain a double that wasn't a total flake, even if her Rhode Island accent is a tad disconcerting. Hey, they're Jewish, right ? Alan Arkin (he played the loser in Glengarry Glen Ross) is very convincing in the role of the 65 year old father raising three children, and doing a decent job of it, too. Marisa Tomei is a very good actress, which allows her to navigate the very difficult waters of "my uncle just grabbed my boob but whatever, it's just a boob, right ?". She's delicate and precise and carries the blondy through.
There's an overlong scene with a vibrator and dancing that I imagine was intended to be funny, or at least qualify the thing as a comedy. Maybe back in the 90s it actually was funny, who even knows anymore. Do you remember the 90s ? Lipreading and no new taxes, end of Communism and the first war to be won by America since WW2, "the service economy" aka "we'll grow rich doing each other's laundry" and the killer micro, strangely enough nothing fucking happened in the 90s. A gleeful sprint down a blind tunnel meanwhile abandoned, and thus forgotten. So it goes.
The decay, the coming night is already evident in the monologue of the rich guy, incomprehensible in the context of the film, inevitable in the context of the era - he wants some recognition, and can't for the life of him find someone capable of recognizing, or whose recognition'd be worth two shits or to any degree meaningful.
The next generation didn't stick around after that.———
- 1998, by Tamara Jenkins, with Natasha Lyonne, Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei. [↩]