Barry Levinson’s autobiographical dramedy is set in Baltimore at Christmastime, as is evident when rich, drunk, college dropout Fenwick (Kevin Bacon), clad only in his underwear, has a one-man altercation in a crèche, beating up the models of the Magi before passing out in the manger. As 1959 draws to a close, Eddie (Steve Guttenberg) is about to get married, but only after he puts his unseen fiancee through a grueling test of Baltimore Colts trivia, hoping she’ll lose. (Meanwhile, in a holiday miracle, Johnny Unitas leads the Colts to victory in the NFL championship game against the New York Giants.)
For this largely Jewish bunch of friends, Christmastime holds no special religious significance, but it clearly marks an ending – of the year, of the 1950s, and of teenage immaturity. Each of these guys, from the irresponsible Fenwick to the hesitant-to-wed Eddie to obsessive album-cataloguing Shrevie (Daniel Stern) to in-debt-to-loan-sharks Boogie (Mickey Rourke), is forced to grow up fast.