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Echo Park

2 Ratings: 4.0
A movie directed by Robert Dornhelm

A film that focuses on a struggling actress who tends bar, delivers stripper-grams and rents rooms to an insecure musician and a professional body builder. All three ambitiously pursue their dream of making it big while looking for love as Los Angeles … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Director: Robert Dornhelm
Release Date: 1986
MPAA Rating: R
1 review about Echo Park

Echo Park turned out to be a fun movie

  • Apr 1, 2004
Pros: A surprise light hearted comedy

Cons: Susan Dey does not fit the casting of a stripper, profanity

The Bottom Line: An enjoyable movie that shows how dreams are pursued through a few characters and friendships are formed in the process.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

I first learned of this video, Echo Park last year when I searched around at ebay on the subject. I was actually looking for post cards, but found some great videos as a result.

Echo Park stars Susan Dey, Tom Hulce and Cheech Marin. This was released back in 1986, twelve years before I moved to the Echo Park neighborhood within Los Angeles city limits. I was expecting a drama from the information I read on the movie, but laughed most of the time while viewing Echo Park.

May is a single parent raising her 8 1/2 year old son Henry in Echo Park. They live in a large duplex where she rents out one apartment to an Austrian bodybuilder known as August. He is planning on being the next Arnold Schwarzenegger, whom he idolizes. Whenever August pumps iron next door he grunts and moans with sounds similar to having sex. August is struggling to learn the English language and once he learns the F word he uses it often.

He is in partnership with Cheech Marin at a local gym and comes up with all sorts of odd ideas on how to promote their facility and make money. Cheech has a small role in this movie as does the receptionist, who is Elvira without the makeup and wig. One funny scene later in the movie has August placing a vibrator on her desk!

At one point August brings a look-alike actor who really resembled Burt Reynolds from this time period. August is seen in his American flag underwear a few times and they are funny scenes.

May works as a bartender, uses profanity often and smokes around her son. She decides they need money so she rents a room and interviews many characters until the pizza delivery guy, played by Tom Hulce shows up with their order and wants to rent the room.

He was the most normal of all the applicants and seems to form a bond quickly with Henry, but Henry does not want a father figure. It was never mentioned where his father was and if his parents were ever married.

The day Jonathan moves in he meets August and they all get his belongings inside and drink beer on a mattress on the front lawn. It is apparent from the first day that both August and Jonathan want to win the heart of May.

It turns out that May is an aspiring actress and later the viewer learns that Jonathan is an aspiring musician and then August gets a role in a deodorant commercial. They are all going after their dreams while doing their daily living, just waiting for their big break.

The three adults become friends, more or less and go on adventures like the beach with Henry as well. Since May works nights Jonathan picks up Henry from school and has him accompany him on pizza deliveries. Jonathan picks up on something about Henry and gives him the nickname Hank and soon May and August are referring to him as Hank.

You could really see the bonds forming after these scenes and they resembled a family of sorts. They were all at the taping of the commercial cheering on August and when he got in a brawl at the gym they bailed him out too.

One day May gets a call for a gig, thinking it will lead to acting she goes to this audition. Well this turns out to be a strip-o-gram service and she bombs right away. It was so funny to see Susan Dey in this part because I really felt she was wrong in the typecast for May and she does not have the body or image to be a stripper.

The best character is Jonathan although you have to wonder what he sees in May, especially after he knows she slept with August. Jonathan tries to tell May that her new occupation is not appropriate for a single parent, but she really believes greener pastures are out there due to this gig. He also inquires into why her son does not call her Mom, but May as everyone else does.

Jonathan drives around in this big truck with a pizza sticking out of it. The place he goes to get the pizzas to deliver does not resemble a pizzeria and it was never really developed into how he got the job or why he did this line of work. The viewer catches on to his musical aspirations when he is playing on a piano and singing while dropping off pizza at a recording studio. He hides his true ambition from May.

I liked seeing the streets in my neighborhood and the school was shown a few times. Echo Park did a good job of portraying what life was like in Los Angeles during the mid 1980s. I did feel that they had too much graffiti in the area, or maybe it was like that twelve years ago. Also the details always seem to list this location as East Los Angeles. That is not accurate since East Los Angeles would be on the other side of downtown Los Angeles.

I felt sad for Hank, who did not look or act like an eight year old and he did not seem to have friends or any hobbies. There was a very sad moment later on in the movie, but all turned out okay and the last scene was really funny.

The movie showed people pursuing dreams and doing what they had to until their ambitions panned out. They did not really end the movie with any dreams happening, but this is a slow process and they all got small breaks.

The ending credits of Echo Park showed that the movie was made through a grant from the government of Austria. I felt this was more of a comedy than drama and explored unique friendships developing over time.


Viewing Format: VHS
Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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