Levinson's dialogue feels fresh and improvised, yet it hits its mark every time, and the performances he gets are complex and original (particularly from Mickey Rourke, who plays a lothario with a late-blooming conscience) - enough so that Levinson's occasional forced "cinematic" effects cause barely a ripple in the smooth, naturalistic surface.
Janet MaslinThe New York Times
Diner isn't lavish or long, but it's the sort of small, honest, entertaining movie that should never go out of style, even in an age of sequels and extravaganzas.
The film is wonderfully cast and played, right down to the bit player (Ralph Tabakin) who shops suspiciously for a TV set: "I saw Bananzo and it was not for me."
Barry Levinson's Diner is an extremely clever, slick male fantasy that takes some time to work out its mood and tone but ultimately blossoms into a moving film. [16 Apr 1982]
Jay ScottThe Globe and Mail (Toronto)
A serious and funny and subtle work - a work of art - that was easy to confuse with exploitation teeny-bopper quickies because it did what the quickies had tried to do. But Diner did it right. [22 Apr 1982]
Levinson’s self-penned 1982 directorial debut and the first of his “Baltimore films” is a disarming reminiscence on buddydom.
Steve Guttenberg, Daniel Stern, Mickey Rourke, Kevin Bacon, Paul Reiser and Timothy Daly are terrific as the friends as are Ellen Barkin and Kathryn Dowling as the two females involved with different group members.