Slums of Beverly Hills

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The Slums of Beverly Hills
Slums of Beverly Hills film.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed by Tamara Jenkins
Produced by Michael Nozik
Stan Wlodkowski
Written by Tamara Jenkins
Starring Natasha Lyonne
Marisa Tomei
Alan Arkin
David Krumholtz
Jessica Walter
Kevin Corrigan
Carl Reiner
Rita Moreno
Mena Suvari
Edited by Robert Duffy
Distributed by Fox Searchlight Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 14, 1998 (1998-08-14) (US)
  • November 27, 1998 (1998-11-27) (UK)
Running time 91 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget USD $5,000,000
Box office $5,502,773

Slums of Beverly Hills is a 1998 American comedy film, written and directed by Tamara Jenkins, and starring Natasha Lyonne, Alan Arkin, Marisa Tomei, David Krumholtz, Kevin Corrigan, Jessica Walter, and Carl Reiner. Its hero is a teenage girl struggling to grow up in the late 1970s in a lower-middle-class nomadic Jewish family that moves every few months.

The film barely earned its budget, and thus is not considered a box-office success. It received mixed to positive reviews. It gradually became a cult classic.[1]

Plot[edit]

Vivian Abromowitz's family are penniless nomads, moving from one cheap apartment to another in Beverly Hills, so that Vivian and her brothers can attend the city's prestigious schools. Their father, Murray, is a divorced 65-year-old who refuses to retire, working as an unsuccessful Oldsmobile salesman.

Vivian's wealthy Uncle Mickey regularly sends the family money to help them survive. When Mickey's 29-year-old daughter Rita runs away from a rehab facility, Murray offers her shelter if Mickey will pay for a plush apartment. Vivian must babysit her adult cousin, making sure she gets to nursing school and avoids pills and booze. But Vivian has her own problems: she's curious about sex, likes an older neighbor kid (Eliot), has inherited her mother's ample breasts, and wants a family that doesn't embarrass her.

Vivian's older brother Ben aspires to a show business career, while her dad aspires to feminine companionship but won't give in to a wealthy lady-friend's desire that he send his kids back East to live with his estranged wife. Vivian's younger brother Rickey simply aspires to get attention.

Vivian and Rita become close and speak sometimes in their own invented language. Vivian learns that Rita has no desire to go to nursing school and also has no clue as to what to do with her life. Murray attempts to cover up Rita's lack of progress at nursing school, when Mickey asks for progress reports. Eventually, Mickey, frustrated at having to support his brother's family and also learning of their deception concerning his daughter, explodes during a meeting between the two families, telling Murray he's tired of sending them money. Depressed and dejected, Murray once again packs the kids into his car and they take off. In an attempt to cheer her father up, Vivian suggests that the family stop for steak for breakfast—a ritual regularly shared by the family as a means of cheering themselves up.

Cast[edit]

Release[edit]

Box office

According to Box Office Mojo, Slums of Beverly Hills earned a total of $5,502,773 in the domestic box office. On its opening weekend it garnered $125,561.

Critical reception[edit]

The movie received positive to mixed reviews from critics. The design of the seventies, the humor and the acting have been described as "dead-on".

  • Roger Ebert said of lead actress Natasha Lyonne, "Lyonne has the film's most important role, and is the key to the comedy. She does a good job of looking incredulous, and there's a lot in her life to be incredulous about. She also has a nice pragmatic approach to sexuality, as in a scene where she consults a plastic surgeon about on-the-spot breast reduction." He also said, "But basically I enjoyed Slums of Beverly Hills—for the wisecracking, for the family squabbles, for the notion of squatters who stake a claim in a Beverly Hills where money, after all, is not the only currency." (He awarded the film 3 out of 4 stars.)
  • San Francisco Chronicle reviewer Ruthe Stein stated, "While touching on serious issues such as loss, this coming-of-age story is first and foremost a comedy, and a hilarious one at that. It never strains to be funny. The humor derives from the deadpan responses of family members to circumstances beyond their control." She also stated, "Set in the mid-'70s, Slums gets the period right, from the burnt orange shag carpet on the floor of the family's temporary digs to the dorky clothes and extreme hairstyles. Even the saleslady who sells Vivian her first bra has the overly made-up look of the time. The Abramowitzes' behavior when they go out to eat—complaining about the service and that there's too much salt in the food—may seem to border on a Jewish stereotype. But it's also dead-on".
  • On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie is currently certified "Fresh' and is described as "Warm, real, and hilarious."

Accolades[edit]

Nominations
  • ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film in a Crossover Role (Rita Moreno)
  • American Comedy Awards, USA for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Marisa Tomei)
  • Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Most Promising Actress (Natasha Lyonne)
  • Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature: Tamara Jenkins (director); Michael Nozik (producer); Stan Wlodkowski (producer); and Best First Screenplay (Tamara Jenkins)
  • Teen Choice Awards for Film - Breakout Performance (Natasha Lyonne) and Film, Funniest Scene
  • YoungStar Awards for Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Comedy Film (Eli Marienthal)

Soundtrack[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]