With the once-famous, now decrepit Coney Island doubling as both the film's backdrop as well as an encompassing metaphor for loneliness and abandonment (due to the park's emptiness during the setting of the winter off-season), "Went To Coney Island" is an engaging, somber story that conveys heavy nostalgia for a more innocent past as well as the need to face the disappointments of the present. The film is interlaced with childhood and high school flashbacks, which deliberately and judiciously reveal the moments that led up to Daniel and Stan's adult failings and, even more poignantly, the unraveling of their close bond with a very troubled Richie.
A bit more problematic, however, are the present-day sequences on the Boardwalk, which tend to last a tad too long and stray too far away from the central plot. Stan and Daniel encounter a parade of eccentric characters, meant as additional examples of human desolation, whose superfluous tales work as unfortunate distractions from the much more interesting search for the missing Richie. Luckily, the intelligent dialogue between the best friends, especially in their examination of what minute factors led to the difference between their fates and their less fortunate schoolmate, goes a long way toward redeeming a plot that sometimes wanders as much as its two leads. Starring Jon Cryer, Rick Stear, Rafael Baez and Ione Skye. Directed by Richard Schenkman. Written and produced by Jon Cryer and Richard Schenkman. A Phaedra release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 94 min