The Flamingo Kid

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"A legend in his own neighborhood."
  • PG-13
  • 1984
  • 1 hr 40 min
  • 6.2  (6,062)
  • 67

The Flamingo Kid is a coming-of-age drama film released in 1984 directed by Garry Marshall. The movie stars Matt Dillon in his early career, Hector Elizondo, Molly McCarthy, Richard Crenna, and Jessica Walter. The film takes place in the summer of 1963 in Long Island, New York, and follows the story of Jeffrey Willis (Matt Dillon), a working-class teenager from Brooklyn, who takes a summer job at an upscale beach club called the Flamingo Club.

Jeffrey’s father, Arthur (Richard Crenna), expects him to work at his gas station for the summer, but Jeffrey's mind is set on something different - a summer of fun at the beach. Jeffrey, who enjoys playing Gin Rummy, catches the attention of a wealthy businessman, Phil Brody (Hector Elizondo), and his wife, Carla (Jessica Walter), who invites him to play cards with them. Jeffrey develops a liking to Phil, who he views as a larger-than-life character, and with his help starts to navigate the social hierarchy of the club.

Despite his young age, Jeffrey is fiercely independent and has a clear idea of what he wants. His goal is to make enough money to buy a car and attend a good college. Jeffrey soon becomes friends with the staff at the Flamingo Club, including his mentor, Brody, who introduces him to new experiences and teaches him more than he realizes.

As Jeffrey becomes more and more familiar with the environment at the Flamingo Club, he begins to acquire the taste and temperament of the rich and famous. He falls in love with a rich girl, Karla (Molly McCarthy), who often frequents the club, and impresses her with his knowledge of the finer things in life. Jeffrey’s new-found success sees him abandoning his working-class roots and indulging in the lifestyle of the privileged.

However, things take a turn when Jeffrey’s romantic relationship with Karla starts to unravel due to differences in their family backgrounds, and his friendship with Brody comes to an abrupt end. Jeffrey becomes disillusioned; he realizes that money and material possessions are not the keys to happiness, and in the process, he starts to see his father and working-class lifestyle in a new light.

The Flamingo Kid explores the themes of ambition, class differences, family values, and the importance of friendship. This movie stands out because it captures the spirit of the early 60s - just before the country's political and social landscape underwent significant changes. The film features a lot of period-relevant music that sets the mood for the summer of love and innocence during the time in the movie. The movie is a reminder that wealth and social standing don't always equate to happiness, and that life is constantly in flux.

Matt Dillon's compelling performance as Jeffrey Willis the ambitious Brooklyn teenager is relatable and engaging; he captures the essence of the character's wide-eyed naivety and his growth throughout the movie. Hector Elizondo embodies Phil Brody's extravagant lifestyle, and the chemistry between the two characters is believable and well-observed. The supporting cast provides excellent performances that add depth to the story and further anchor the overall mood of the film.

In conclusion, The Flamingo Kid is an excellent movie that will appeal to anyone who is looking for a nostalgic look back at the early '60s. It explores the themes of love, loss, class differences, family values, and the importance of friendship. This movie offers a rare opportunity to glimpse the class divisions and cultural values of a fascinating period in American history. It's an enjoyable movie that showcases the talents of its seasoned director; it is a timeless classic that will be cherished by fans of good storytelling.

The Flamingo Kid
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 40 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.2  (6,062)
  • Metascore