140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
Straightforward coming of age story set in the 60’s – hardly unexplored territory – but a solid picture for all that. Punches its weight…
Spoiler-free Movie Review of The Flamingo Kid:
It’s sometimes hard to predict which films will have a lasting impact and which will be relegated to the mental attic. The Flamingo Kid one of the latter, its lasting legacy being a trivia answer to the question “What film was first to receive the PG-13 rating?” Which is too bad, because it was one of my favorite coming of age films when I was coming of age…
Actually, I never totally understood why it got a PG-13 rating to begin with. It’s a perfectly straightforward teen comedy. I don’t even remember much cursing or nudity, although I haven’t seen it in years. I really don’t need to – I watched this movie more than any John Hughes movie growing up. (Mainly because we had recorded it off of tv during one of those free movie channel weekends that they ran from time to time. The only Hughes picture I was able to tape was The Breakfast Club, which I watched nearly as often.)
The film is part of a subset of films that could comprise their own genre – 1950’s & 60’s boys coming of age. (However, if there’s a single example of a similarly set coming of age story for girls I’m unaware of it.) The picture could have been written by Neil Simon for all its familiarity.
The fact that The Flamingo Kid resides in well-traveled territory isn’t a deal-breaker – there’s a reason they make so many of these pictures, after all.
Set in 1963, The Flamingo Kid finds young Brooklynite Jeffrey Willis (Matt Dillon) taking a chance trip out to an exclusive Long Island beach club where he finds a job, a mentor and love.
The performances help keep this tale fresh. Dillon is charismatic enough for three actors and is tailor made for these young man roles. Janet Jones, known probably more for being Wayne Gretzky’s wife than her acting career, plays the part of Jeffrey’s love interest Carla Samson quite well, plausibly conveying her character’s assertion that she really doesn’t care about the class difference between them.
Richard Crenna plays Phil Brody “The King”, who rules the gin rummy table and takes Jeffrey under his wing. It’s a good role and Crenna fills it well.
The breakout talent of the film, though, is Hector Elizondo as Jeffrey’s father, Arthur. The character is enough of a middle-class, no nonsense father to fill the seemingly de rigeur archetype, but Elizondo makes more of the role. His performance brings forth a gentle humor that seems to hint at the source of his son’s charm, and the script allows for some truly loving exchanges that indicate that his protestations to his son’s behavior and chosen life path are out of concern and caring and not merely the disapproval of a cartoon parental unit.
Filling out the cast are some performances by young talents Fisher Stevens, Steven Weber and Bronson Pinchot, as well as a bit part for Marisa Tomei in her second screen appearance. (First? The Toxic Avenger…)
The Flamingo Kid is both exactly what it looks like and something slightly more. It’s a worthwhile endevour and a lot of fun. It has a great Motown soundtrack and is a great summer movie (despite being released in December for some reason). Reportedly Disney is planning to remake it with Brett Ratner producing. My usual knee jerk reaction to such plans notwithstanding, it’s probably not a bad idea; the picture is perfectly fine as is, but while it did ok at the box office, it never really found a legacy or shelf life and could possibly find a new audience with an update.
Oh, and by the way, the rest of that trivia answer is that although The Flamingo Kid was first to receive the PG-13 rating, it was actually the fifth to be released, after Red Dawn, The Woman in Red, Dreamscape and Dune…
The Representation Test Score: B (7 pts)
|Main Cast||Matt Dillon Jeffrey Willis, Hector Elizondo Arthur Willis, Molly McCarthy Ruth Willis, Martha Gehman Nikki Willis|
|Release Date||Fri 21 Dec 1984 UTC|
|Genres||Comedy, Drama, Romance|
|Plot||Jeffrey Willis has just finished high school and isn’t quite sure what the future holds. His parents…|
|Tagline||A legend in his own neighborhood.|
|Writers||Neal Marshall (story) and, Garry Marshall|