‘The Flamingo Kid’ Catch-Up

The Flamingo Kid. Have you heard of it? Okay, but have you seen it? I had heard of it but had never seen it because it was one of the rare teen movies that wasn’t on TBS on repeat when I was growing up. I feel oddly worse off for that—pop culturally speaking—because it is, and I hate to use this word, a gem. Matt Dillon stars as Jeffrey, a smart, charming, lower-middle-class kid who gets a summer job at a beach club during an idealized 1960’s. It is the 1960’s that could have been, conspicuously absent of decade-defining racial tensions so that the kids in the movie can just be kids. Class does play a role, though, and the movie is about Jeffrey navigating the social boundaries of the club and deciding whether or not to follow the advice of his newfound white collar mentor or his blue collar father. Throw in some shenanigans with his surprisingly heterogenous mix of friends, a greatest hits soundtrack, and a summer romance and it becomes a nice, low-stakes break from all the super heavy teen dramas of today. The great supporting cast is full of Garry Marshall’s favorites (e.g. the always great Hector Elizondo) as well as a stable of 1980’s up-and-comers. We also get to see a stunning Jessica Walter channel her future Lucille Bluth and a young Marisa Tomei (in her first credited role) in this 80’s charmer, as well.

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