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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Slums of Beverly Hills
Directed by Tamara Jenkins
20th Century Fox 01/99 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - strong sexual situations, nudity, language, drug content

"Furniture is just temporary, education is forever," Murray (Alan Arkin), a Jewish single parent tells his three children in 1976. With a yen for gambling and a heartfelt goal of keeping his offspring in the Beverly Hills school district, he dodges landlords at various motels. In the midst of this precarious existence, Viv (Natasha Lyonne) is coming of age sexually. By fate, she is thrown together with Rita (Marisa Tomei), the just-out-of-a-rehab-program daughter of Murray's wealthy brother Mickey (Carl Reiker). Viv's other guide into the world of adult sexuality is Eliot (Kevin Corrigan), a spaced-out dope dealer.

This zany comedy written and directed by Tamara Jenkins is filled with humorous takes on sexuality in the 1970s. Murray's family experiences a brief period of financial security when his brother gives him some money in exchange for his promise to help Rita focus on the nursing college she's decided to attend. Despite all the ups and downs of their vagabond lifestyle, this dysfunctional family manages to hold together. One reason may be their ritual of going together to cafes and having steak for breakfast. Everything looks better after a meal fit for kings and queens!

 

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Reviews and database copyright 1970 2012
by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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