The Flamingo Kid is a 1984 American comedy film directed by Garry Marshall, starring Matt Dillon, Richard Crenna, Hector Elizondo, Janet Jones & Jessica Walter.

The film also starred Marisa Tomei (in her film debut), Steven Weber and Bronson Pinchot (from the 1980s sitcom "Perfect Strangers").

It was also the first film to be rated "PG-13" (although it was the fifth film to be released with that rating after films Red Dawn, The Woman in Red, Dreamscape and Dune).


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

In the summer of 1963, Jeffrey Willis (Matt Dillon) joins some friends for a day of Gin rummy at the El Flamingo Club, a private beach resort. There, he meets the girl of his dreams Carla Sampson (Janet Jones).

After the Gin game and being told of the club's strict policy regarding guests, Jeffrey is upset, but not for long, since he immediately landed a job as a car valet and eventually, cabana steward.

Jeffrey is a kid from a middle class Brooklyn family and his father (Elizondo) does not approve of him working at the private club. His hero and mentor at the resort is the reigning Gin rummy card game champ, Phil Brody (Crenna).

Jeffrey, a winning Gin Rummy player himself, and his friends, admire Brody and how his wins at the Gin rummy table make him seem "psychic," knowing which cards to give up. Brody also takes a liking to Jeffrey, eventually showing him his car business, and gives him hopes that car sales are where he belongs as a career.

Jeffrey gets further immersed in the "easy buck," defying his father's guidance. During dinner, Jeffrey notably says he "will not be needing college" and plans to pursue being a car salesman instead. Jeffrey and his co-workers at The Flamingo also venture to Yonkers Raceway together, risking cash on a horse tip but come up short when the trotter breaks stride.

Eventually, Jeffrey leaves home to pursue the sales job. However, Brody, angry that Jeffrey disturbed him during a dance class, reveals to Jeffrey that the job opening at the car dealership is for a stock boy, not as a salesman as Jeffrey had been led to believe was his when he asked for it. Brody encourages Jeffrey to take the stock boy position so he can work his way up. Jeffrey becomes shocked at his mentor's actions and reconsiders college.

Near summer's end, Jeffrey observes that a regular onlooker, "Big Sid", is feeding signals to Brody, the true cause of Brody's winning ways. When Big Sid and a member of the gin team playing against Brody's team are overcome by the heat, Jeffrey fills in, opposing Brody, and seeking to help win back the unfair profits Brody won from his friends over the course of the Summer.

Jeffrey and his team eventually win back what was unfairly lost, including a good profit besides. Realizing the mistakes he made in rejecting his father's good advice, Jeffrey makes up with his dad in a touching scene at Larry's Fish House ("Any Fish You Wish"), where his family is dining.


  • Matt Dillon as Jeffrey Willis
  • Hector Elizondo as Arthur Willis
  • Richard Crenna as Phil Brody
  • Janet Jones as Carla Samson
  • Jessica Walter as Phyllis Brody
  • Fisher Stevens as Hawk Ganz
  • Bronson Pinchot as Alfred Shultz
  • Marisa Tomei as Mandy
  • Steven Weber as Paul Hirsch
  • Martha Gehman as Nikki Willis


"The Flamingo Kid" was filmed in New York City.

The main location for the film was located at the Silver Gull Beach Club in Rockaway, Queens, New York inside the Gateway National Recreation Area. Jeffrey's apartment building was filmed at 39-26 62nd Street in Queens, New York City, New York.

Originally, the lead role of Jeffrey Willis was offered to Matthew Broderick, but after Broderick dropped out, the character was rewritten for Matt Dillon.


Box OfficeEdit

"The Flamingo Kid" first had a limited theatrical release on December 21, 1984 where it debuted at #12 at the box office, grossing $2,015,076 during its opening weekend.

In the film's wide theatrical release on December 28, 1984, it debuted at #10 at the box office, grossing $4,437,250 in its opening weekend.

The film's total gross was $23,859,382.

Critical ReceptionEdit

On Rotten Tomatoes, "The Flamingo Kid" was given a 88% rating based on 17 reviews with its average rating as 6.8\10.

Roger Ebert gave the film 4 in a half stars, calling Matt Dillon "a revelation" in the film and says he has "the kind of acting intelligence that allows him to play each scene for no more than that particular scene is really about; he's not trying to summarize the message in every speech. That gives him an ease, an ability to play the teenage hero as if every day were a whole summer long".


1985 Golden Globes

  • Richard Crenna: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (nominated)

Theatrical TrailerEdit

The Flamingo Kid Movie Trailer

The Flamingo Kid Movie Trailer

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