Think of this movie as the flip side to Beverly Hills 90210. The Abramowitz family lives in Beverly Hills for the good schools. But with their single-parent father (Alan Arkin) selling used cars, they can only afford to live in third-rate apartments. When the money runs out, they take off, sometimes in the middle of the night, staying one step ahead of the landlords. The story is told by 15-year-old Vivian (Natasha Lyonne) who struggles with adolescence as the only female in the family. When cousin Rita (Marisa Tomei), who has walked out of a detox clinic, comes to stay, things improve for the family. The family gets a nicer apartment, since Rita’s father is willing to pay to keep her off his hands, and Vivian gets a big sister. Despite an unsatisfying ending, the originality of the story and the engaging comedy make this movie enjoyable. With so many movies about boys coming of age, it’s nice to see one that focuses on a girl for a change.
Slums of Beverly Hills***
published September 4, 2000