Slums of Beverly Hills
Time Out saysA small film with plenty of incidental pleasures, writer/director Jenkins' debut feature puts a winning new spin on the adolescent comedy-drama. Told from the point of view of gawky, pubescent Vivian (Lyonne), it follows the peripatetic Abramowitch family as they motor around the low-rent quarters of Beverly Hills in their car salesman father's gas guzzler, often having packed in a mad rush before the landlord descends. Everybody has their problems: for Dad (Arkin), time and money are clearly running out fast; his wise cracking son Ben (Krumholtz) is finding it hard gaining his first start as an actor; younger son Rickey can't get a word in; and Vivian is finding puberty a matter of consternation. When wacky neighbour Eliot (Corrigan) starts making overtures, and ditzy rehabilitating druggie Rita (Tomei), intent on a new career as a nurse, joins the family and starts proffering Vivian her vibrator, you wonder what could happen next. Jenkins does well in toning down the usual schtick and schmaltz associated with the bitter-sweet Jewish family comedy, and re-invigorating the dialogue with a winning forthrightness. Furthermore, the ambling road movie atmosphere allows space for the film to explore, with affectionate detail, life from the lower end of the social scale.