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Overall Rating

Awesome: 31.15%
Worth A Look42.62%
Average: 13.11%
Pretty Bad: 4.92%
Total Crap: 8.2%

6 reviews, 25 user ratings

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Slums of Beverly Hills
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by Ryan Arthur

4 stars

Luck be a lady tonight!

I've gotten to the point where, anymore, I'll take a lower budget indie over a major Hollywood production. Better performances, bettter stories, less hype. Every once in a while, one of those smaller movies will be so good that you'll wish it gets a wider audience. The Slums of Beverly Hills is certainly like that.

It's the story of Vivian (Natasha Lyonne), a 14-year-old girl with an ever expanding bustline and Viv's father Murray (Alan Arkin) who moves his family (invluding Viv and her two brothers) every few weeks, jumping rent (to head to some place where they don't "rob you blind") but staying in Beverly Hills because it's got "good schools."

Viv's got a problem with her bust. She hates it. Her brothers make fun of her ("Dad," says the eldest, "She's stacked."), she gets weird stares and unsolicited advice, she gets felt up by a would-be suitor (Kevin Corrigan) in a laundry room. "I dropped out of school because I wanted to join the work force," he tells Viv when he meets her. "What do you do?" she asks. "Sell pot." Viv's life seems to be the somewhat quirky life of every teenage girl. Then Viv's cousin Rita shows up.

Rita (Marissa Tomei, finally proving that the Oscar may not have been a fluke) is sort of a free spirit. She's the daughter of Murray's rich brother, and if Murray keeps her in check, the brother will send cash to help keep the family afloat. But Rita's got baggage. She's been in rehab, and she's pregnant by a guy who does "Man Of La Mancha" as a one man show. There's also the slightly unsettling playfulness (which turns into something more) between Rita and Murray.

It could be played out like a Fox sitcom. It doesn't. The key's in the performances.

Lyonne is exceptional as Viv. She's sweet and sometimes endearing, and she's good at getting that "I can't believe this is happening" look. She's the movie's lynchpin, and she's up to the task. Tomei and Arkin both surprised me, Tomei because I'd thought she'd always been a one note actress, and Arkin because it's so rare to see him on screen. David Krumholtz, in limited screen time as Viv's eldest brother Ben, is pretty funny.

There's also some wonderfully comic moments, like Viv experiencing her first orgasm (with Rita's vibrator) on the bathroom floor and Ben belting out the chorus to "Luck Be A Lady" while high and wearing nothing but a pair of briefs.

There are a few miscues. The film has a too pat ending, and a climax where Viv goes into a rage against Rita's father. We never really learn what happened to the kids' mother. And the previously mentioned interlude between Rita and Murray (which is a turning point for Viv and a completely out of left field plot twist for the audience) seems forced. But on the whole, The Slums of Beverly Hills is actually pretty good, a lot better than most of the crap currently out there.

One of the better indies out now, and damn funny to boot.

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originally posted: 09/14/98 23:44:41
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User Comments

9/30/10 art VERY DEPRESSING! 1 stars
3/30/06 Jack Aponte Smart, witty, and thoroughly watchable, again and again. 5 stars
7/02/05 Indrid Cold One of those "look at me I'm INDIE" movies. Pretty good though. 4 stars
3/30/05 Mark Kaufman Awesome film, awseome acting! 5 stars
10/02/03 Anthony Patti This movie was a complete waste of time with no redeeming value. 1 stars
1/04/03 Roy Smith Totally unfunny. Stunned anyone likes this shit at all! 1 stars
4/30/02 katie HILARIOUS! great coming of age movie. one of my favs! 5 stars
2/20/02 Andrew Carden Far-Fetched Teen Comedy With Delicate Subjects Mis-Firing Unfunny Gags. 1 stars
8/14/01 Phil Excellent debut, and a great cast.. Tomei, as always, steals the show. 4 stars
6/20/01 Elvisfan No big deal. Liked Arkin, as always 3 stars
3/13/01 John Unique and surprising! Message really hit home. 5 stars
3/11/01 Jake Funny and Sentimental. Makes Clueless look like a sitcom. 5 stars
3/14/00 Richard Wright Amusing in parts. but the rest is like a 30 minute sit-com extended to an hour and a half. 3 stars
2/06/00 Kyle Broflovski *Gigglegigglesnort* The dancing-with-the vibrator scene was hella funny!! A TRIUMPH!!! 5 stars
10/21/99 Pyro This movie sucks shit, I don't care about a girl having her period!!! 1 stars
9/10/99 Eliza After sitting through this film for the second time I wanted to kill myself. 2 stars
7/12/99 ken heine the pot smoking scenes were cool. 4 stars
7/08/99 sydney a sweet film 4 stars
4/08/99 Michael Grimm sex and drug scenes ruled!!!!!!! 4 stars
9/21/98 Maegs Solid performances by a great cast--I love Carl Reiner! 4 stars
9/09/98 dov booooooooooooring 2 stars
9/07/98 Johny Nothing all that special, had it's moments. I'd give it 2.5. 2 stars
9/06/98 Young Einstein Pretty cool movie. 4 stars
9/02/98 Aslan Grealis Yo, its all about the bzzzzzzz 5 stars
8/22/98 Mister Whoopee Natasha Lyonne is funky as hell. 4 stars
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  14-Aug-1998 (R)
  DVD: 17-Dec-2002



Directed by
  Tamara Jenkins

Written by
  Tamara Jenkins

  Natasha Lyonne
  Alan Arkin
  Bryna Weiss
  Marisa Tomei
  David Krumholtz
  Mena Suvari

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