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The Next Reel • Season 11 • Series: Coming of Age Debuts • Slums of Beverly Hills

Slums of Beverly Hills

“It’s not unusual to move every three months.”

The story of Tamara Jenkins’ Slums of Beverly Hills feels very lived in with authentic characters and situations. It makes sense that there’s a semi-autobiographical element to her film. How well does it hold up over two decades after its release? Join us – Pete Wright and Andy Nelson – as we continue our Coming of Age Debuts series with Jenkins’ 1998 film Slums of Beverly Hills.

What do we think of Slums of Beverly Hills?

Jenkins has only made three feature films unfortunately, but we’ve liked what we’ve seen. (In full disclosure, Andy worked on The Savages so might be biased.) She’s talked about how challenging our system is for women directors, which may speak to her low output.

The struggles of Vivian in this film, perfectly played by Natasha Lyonne, carry the story. As she literally comes of age (we start the film with her dad getting her her first bra), we feel her struggles to adapt to her changing body. And living with her dad and two brothers makes her life frustrating.

Speaking of her family, Alan Arkin, David Krumholtz, and Eli Marienthal are perfect. They feel like a real family. When Marisa Tomei enters as their crazy cousin Rita, it just fits.

Rita and Vivian have a great cousin relationship involving things like talking in gibberish and lessons in vibrators. Oh, and plenty of breast talk too. Jenkins rides a strong line of comedy with the dramatic moments, and it all works.

We love the concept of the film riding along the fringes of Beverly Hills. It’s a period piece that always feels authentic. We have a great time with this one, so check it out then tune in! The Next Reel – when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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