30 Years of Down And Out In Beverly Hills

Today marks the 30th anniversary of Down And Out In Beverly Hills.

May 30th marks the 30th anniversary release of Down and Out in Beverly Hills that in this reviewer’s thoughts should not be a cause for any type of celebration. Despite critic Roger Ebert’s glowing four star review of this at the time of its release and stating that it made him “laugh lounger and louder than any film … [that he’d] seen in a long time,” I found it to be quite average [1]. That must be the reason that I have not revisited this picture that comes from an era that I truly cherish, which is the glorious 1980’s history of cinema. 

Dang. Brad Pitt looks really scruffy in this. 

The story revolves around a rich family that lives in Beverly Hills, who are essentially bored by their own existence and the world that they have created. A homeless man comes into their lives after he tries to commit suicide in their pool because he has lost his dog and now has no reason to live. They save him and invite him into their lives and he proceeds to change them and they come to find that they need him. The core theme of the movie is friendship and that everyone needs some type of companionship in their lives in order for it to be meaningful.

It was based upon a French play titled Boudu sauve des eaux, which had been adapted into a French movie by director Jan Renoir in 1932. The American version contains some pretty decent actors that include Richard Dreyfuss, Nick Nolte, and Bette Middler. There are also appearances from Elizabeth Pena and Little Richard. Their performances are decent but nothing outstanding and are actually upstaged by the two dogs that play major parts in this. I found Middler to be downright annoying and simply have never thought very highly of her in regards to her acting abilities. Little Richard has to be the best part of this; he has the best lines and also has a very nice scene where he performs at a party.

There are several issues with this motion picture that has made it run of the mill. The pacing felt slow and the first act could have been hurried up. They spent way too long building up to all of the main characters coming together. It’s also never truly funny or dramatic, it just falls somewhere in between providing only several real funny moments. Those brief moments simply cannot save it and I think that is why this one is not as memorable as some of the other comedies that were released in the '80s.


-Raul VanTassle

"rogerebert," rogerebert, 28 5 2016. [Online]. Available: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/down-and-out-in-beverly-hills-1986. [Accessed 28 5 2016].