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Slums Of Beverly Hills Review

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★★★★

From its screen image, you'd be forgiven for thinking that residence in Beverly Hills is an automatic indication of affluence. Watch Slums, a hugely amiable tale of teenage trauma, and you'll learn a very different story.

The 90210-dwelling family in question comes across as a kind of mid-70s dysfunctional Beverly Hillbillies. Chief among these is Vivian (Lyonne), whose adolescent woes (mainly about her ample chest area) are compounded by her annoying older brother, and their father, Murray (Arkin), who has a tendency to move house at a moment's notice.

First they end up in a crummy one-bedroom apartment then, after the sudden appearance of dotty relative Rita (Tomei) - Vivian's closest confidante - into a much nicer place across the street paid for by Rita's dad. Provided, that is, Murray can keep his niece out of trouble.

This is standard coming-of-age stuff padded out with quirky humour, chick bonding, and memorable eccentrics (Tomei as a hippie chick, would-be love interest Corrigan as a Charles Manson-fixated drug dealer). But Slums' refreshing spin on the Beverly Hills lifestyle (together with its thankfully sparing use of the era's tunes) raises it above the pack, allowing its cast to revel in its increasing absurdity and drawing a sparkling star turn from Lyonne as the gawky, buxom Vivian. In upping the comic factor, Jenkins has amply delivered the goods, proving that not all women's pictures need be bogged down in sentiment.

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