The Flamingo Kid

Professionally made, quite entertaining, and disappointingly hollow. In a mythically rendered early 60s, city kid Matt Dillon gets a job as a cabana boy at a posh Long Island resort for the nouveau riche, and falls under the influence of a slick, self-confident car dealer (Richard Crenna) while ignoring the counsel of his poor but honest father (Hector Elizondo). Though the director is TV sitcom king Garry Marshall (Laverne and Shirley, Happy Days), the film doesn’t have a television feel: the 60s details are dense and wittily chosen, and the large cast of accomplished character actors makes this world seem fully populated. But TV technique creeps in in the way Marshall lightens and diffuses the class and psychological conflicts that are at the center of the script, replacing dramatic substance with plot tricks and pat moral lessons. Crenna, in the late phase of a long career, is superbly meticulous and imaginative, and Jessica Walter is as sharp as a tack in a brief appearance as his wife. (JR)

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