I haven’t ever felt badly after viewing a John Hughes movie before. From Ferris Bueller to Sixteen Candles to Home Alone, I was never bored by any of his pics. Planes, Trains & Automobiles, Hughes only true “adult” movie, is a triumph of 1980s screenwriting and acting. So it’s sad to watch She‘s Having A Baby, another so-called “grown up“ pic. Even with a few good scenes, it’s easily the most boring movie with Hughes’s name attached to it. And a weak Hughes flick to me is strangely disheartening.
Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth McGovern star as Jake and Kristy Briggs, a couple of recent college graduates with minimal career aspirations and undying love for one another. For the first few minutes, Kevin Bacon gives an extremely boring voiceover chronicling his life from meeting his fiance until college graduation.
I remember nights at my hometown Diner, Chris’s Family Restaurant to be specific, where we sat, debated politics, girls, and lifestyle for hours on end. I also remember my time at college, sitting at whatever diner it was with one of my best friends for four hours at a time. The bars in my college town closed at 2 AM, and afterward six (or eight or ten) of us rushed to the diner right after last call to pile on over-easy eggs, homefries, toast, bacon, and coffee on top of all of the Coors Light. That is, of course, if we weren’t getting laid. We’d sit, with an ever dwindling crowd, until it was my best friend and I, and we’d discuss everything under the sun.
If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, the diner represents something more than just a restaurant where you can order breakfast, lunch or dinner into the wee-small hours. It’s almost a cathedral, where whatever you say to your friends becomes sacred, and it’s understood that the things you say over that eight cup of coffee that’s sure to keep you up until 10:00 the next morning, will remain secret. I can barely remember any of the countless sorority mixers I attended throughout college, but I can remember the conversations I had at any number of diners. Another buddy and I tried to conquer a series of diners in high school all in one night, but once we hit the comfortable linoleum seats at Chris’s Family Restaurant after just one earlier stop, we couldn’t move for three hours. We talked about music (Wilco), politics (Al Gore…yeah, hilarious, I know), and movies (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest). When we left, it was 4:00 in the morning, and we were still wide awake.
Barry Levinson’s Diner captures this bizarre nostalgia so eerily I feel as though I’m sitting in the booth with his characters. I’ve had all these conversations before, yet, they never become less interesting. Diner is fundamentally about male bonding done in a familiar setting to anyone who grew up in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, or Delaware. But, the movie also strikes a deeper chord because the conversations are that realistic to any man under the age of 30.