Althoug h both films chronicle the adventures of a group of close friends reluctant to enter adulthood circa 1960, "Grafitti" spotlighted the innocence and sense of optimism of its era while "Diner" concentrates on the frustrations and aimlessness of young people foundering between high school graduation and marriage.
"Diner's" group of buddies are not as engaging as "Graffiti's" bunch of mischievous teens, mainly because they are older, wiser and very afraid of following in their parents' empty footsteps.
Writer/dire ctor Barry Levinson's script is full of idle banter and boyish prattle, the bulk of which concerns the mysteries of sex. Not one of Levinson's round table of boobs seems to want to better himself or his life, nor do they consider their women anything but sex partners or servants. Perhaps this behavior can be blamed on the mounds of greasy food consumed at the diner that serves as their meeting place, but a closer look should reveal that Levinson's own weak script is at fault.
Many of the young actors etch memorable characters that somehow raise their heads above the muddled storyline. Rourke, last seen as an ex-con with a penchant for arson in "Body Heat," and Stern, an alumnus of "Breaking Away," have their moments. But too much of this film has the feel of a student production and mires its pacing in a sluggish sequence of events even a young Marlon Brando couldn't act out of.
Though there are a few inventive moments and several highly professional technical performances (with Peter Sova's photography a standout), "Diner" is paltry fare. Exhibitors should emphasize its bouncy Fifties rock n' roll score and resemblance to other period youth films as promotional hooks. Metro-Gold wyn-Mayer. 110 min. Starring Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Timothy Daly and Kevin Beacon