Everyday People (review)

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I feel like a real heel for not being able to endorse this film enthusiastically and wholeheartedly, but there we have it. This day-in-the-life of a Brooklyn diner, a neighborhood institution, sets for itself the noble goal of “challenging” conventional assumptions about race, ethnicity, gender, age, and religion on a day in which the Jewish owner of Raskin’s announces suddenly to his multiracial, multigenerational staff that he’s selling the place to condo developers who are gentrifying the neighborhood. From students earning a few bucks before school starts to servers who’ve been waiting tables for 20 years, they all spend the workday dealing with the upheaval and the betrayal. The cast is attractive and talented, but the proceedings are really rather dull: the only truly “interesting” aspect of the movie is the metaconceit, for which the film smugly pats itself on the back, that — surprise! — anyone who isn’t white and wealthy and smooth and youthful might nevertheless be an actual human being. It’s a dim view writer/director Jim McKay (who provides audio commentary) must hold of his intended audience, if he believes them to be such raging bigots that this comes as a newsflash. And we’re in even worse shape as a society than I imagined if this point on its own is enough to make a movie praiseworthy. Grudgingly, this one is recommended, but more for its aims than in how it attempts to achieve them.

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