As The Flamingo Kid
amply demonstrates, there's always room for one more rites of passage film if it's made with care and affection. Garry Marshall's 1984 study of a young Brooklyn poker player who thinks the grass is greener at a Long Island beach club, nails the bad guy, realises he got it wrong and returns to the bosom of his "humble" family certainly satisfies on both counts.
It also has a strong cast: Matt Dillon as Jeffrey, whose niggling aspirations create the inevitable barrier between himself and his parents; Richard Crenna as his prospective role model who turns out to have feet of clay; and Hector Elizondo as his bemused father. But Jessica Walter (Clint Eastwood's stalker from hell in Play Misty for Me) almost steals the show as an acid-tongued beach-club wife.
If the whole thing lacks the depth and warmth of, say, Neil Simon's Brighton Beach Memoirs, it succeeds on its own merits as an homage to a more innocent time when a young man didn't need to stray far from his own tenement block in order to find himself, with the help of a suitably nostalgic early-1960s soundtrack of course.
On the DVD: As far as extras go, this is a budget offering. There are detailed actor biographies but precious little on the film itself, apart from the snippet that Richard Crenna earned a Golden Globe award nomination. There is an adequate scene index and, for those who want to study Dillon in detail, a reasonable stills gallery. The picture is presented in standard format, and hardly distinguishable from ordinary VHS or telecast quality, but the stereo audio certainly helps pump out the period soundtrack. --Piers Ford
Long Island, 1963. Jeffrey Willis (Matt Dillon) is a young man from Brooklyn who becomes immersed in the lifestyle of the rich and flamboyant when he visits the 'El Flamingo' beach club. Discovering that he is attractive to women, and well-liked generally, this is sure to be one of the most memorable summers of his life.