A 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.
Slums of Beverly Hills
Cast and crew