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Writer-director Barry Levinson's autobiographical first feature fondly remembers his Baltimore youth. It's late 1959, and six guys in their early twenties are stumbling into adulthood, alternating responsibility with carefree time at their local diner. The story centers on the return from college of Billy (Tim Daly) to serve as best man at the wedding of his pal Eddie (Steve Guttenberg). Billy is consumed by a confusing relationship with a close female friend, while Eddie still lives at home, preparing a football trivia test for his fiancée and vowing to cancel the wedding if she… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 91%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Levinson's dialogue feels fresh and improvised, yet it hits its mark every time, and the performances he gets are complex and original."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Not a lot to it, but the sense of period is acute, the script witty without falling into the crude pitfalls that beset other adolescent comedies, and the performances are spot-on."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"With so much going for it, then, why doesn't 'Diner' emerge as a major statement? Mostly because of the recurring weakness of its screenplay."
‑ David Sterritt, Christian Science Monitor
"All the performances are remarkable. Rourke won't stay unknown for long. But the ultimate triumph is Levinson's. He captures both the surface and the soul of an era with candor and precision."
‑ , People Magazine
"Thoroughly enjoyable nostalgia film about lost youth that's as refreshing as a cup of coffee from a Greek diner."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"The film is wonderfully cast and played."
‑ Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine
"Diner is often a very funny movie, although I laughed most freely not at the sexual pranks but at the movie's accurate ear, as it reproduced dialogue with great comic accuracy."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Though nothing much happens this is a skilfully written comedy-drama that plays close attention to character and boasts fine performances by a quality cast."
‑ , Film4
"not a great film, but it certainly is memorable"
‑ John A. Nesbit, Old School Reviews
"Made by an insider, Baltimore's son Barry Levinson, who gets the texture and characters right, Diner is one of the most perceptive youth tales about the gulf between the sexes before the subject became a debatable issue."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"For all his painstaking accuracy, Levinson has also concocted a dark and depressing period story devoid of a single person without a major problem or character flaw."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Movies like Diner -- fresh, well-acted and energetic American movies by new directors with the courage of their convictions -- are an endangered species."
‑ Janet Maslin, New York Times
"This gentle, warm-hearted comedy drama about a group of young men in 1950s Baltimore was director Barry Levinson's debut feature and it remains among his finest work."
‑ John Ferguson, Radio Times
"As confused as its male protagonists are about their proper place in the world, it's their relationship to women that beguiles them most. It's also their path to maturity."
‑ Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
"A witty and biting screenplay is excellently portrayed by an ensemble, who would all soon become big stars."
‑ , Empire Magazine
More reviews for Diner on Rotten Tomatoes