1959, Baltimore, Maryland. A group of high school buddies, all in their twenties, are verging on manhood. At a favorite diner, they gather regularly to eat, drink, and talk about sex, 45 rpm records, and sports. The future looms over them like a giant dragon, but they are not very anxious to take up their swords and do battle with it.
Diner is the first feature film directed by Barry Levinson who wrote the screenplay for …And Justice For All and Inside Moves. He has a flair for great casting. The young actors in this engaging movie are all superb.
Daniel Stern is Shrevie, a record nut who works in a television store and happens to be the first member of his circle of friends to have gotten married. He and his wife Beth (Ellen Barkin) have trouble communicating; now that they have unlocked the mystery of sex which consumed them as teenagers, they don't know what to do with each other.
Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) is about to marry, but he's nervous. He has decided that if his fiancée doesn't score well in a football trivia test, he won't go through with the wedding. After all, what will they talk about if she isn't well versed in the sport?
Boogie (Micky Rourke) is a lady's man who works at a beauty parlor and attends law school at night; he's over his head with gambling debts. Two other members of the group also have problems. Fenwick (Kevin Bacon), in full-steam rebellion against his rich parents, drinks a lot and takes risks to assure himself that life is exciting and that his friends care. Billy (Timothy Daly), on break from college, can't persuade his pregnant girlfriend to abandon her career at a TV station and marry him.
In delineating this group of friends, Levinson has created a very likable gallery of interesting people whose camaraderie, hijinks, and troubles ought to resonate with many viewers. Stern from Breaking Away, Rourke from Body Heat, and Bacon from the TV soap opera "The Guiding Light" put in the best and most appealing character portraits of their careers. Levinson's loving treatment of his protagonists' aspirations and apprehensions makes Diner one of 1982's most human and touching films.