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Diner

Year: 1982
Studio: MGM
Director: Barry Levinson
Writer: Barry Levinson
Cast: Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Paul Resier, Ellen Barkin, Kevin Bacon

I think this is the kind of movie you need to have watched as a kid and had an enduring love affair with for a long time to appreciate what it truly is. It's a snapshot love letter to an era as much as a story, like The Big Chill or American Graffiti.

Recreating 1950s city life, a group of college age friends go about their lives, loves, impending and desired marriages, getting lucky, staying out of the way of violent bookies and more. The focus of their lives is the roadside diner where they spend a good deal of their time, like Al's in Happy Days.

Sprinkled liberally with music of the era (I'll bet the soundtrack was a huge hit back when the film was released), it's full of familiar and impossibly young faces like Steve Guttenberg, Ellen Barkin, Paul Reiser and Daniel Stern looking like they just got out of high school.

Most interesting is the baby faces of Kevin Bacon and Mickey Rourke as roommates Tim and Boogie. They're only six years apart in age but today the Rourke's face shows what a few decades of boxing, drugs and unclean living will do. He's frequently cast as the grizzled oldster and Bacon could play his son.

It's almost a mood and an attitude as much as a movie, something you could have on a loop in the background to transport you to a youth you always imagined or once knew.

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