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Ordinary People (1980)

R  |   |  Drama  |  27 February 1981 (Australia)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 33,351 users   Metascore: 85/100
Reviews: 281 user | 56 critic | 11 from Metacritic.com

The accidental death of the older son of an affluent family deeply strains the relationships among the bitter mother, the good-natured father, and the guilt-ridden younger son.



(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Won 4 Oscars. Another 15 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Swim Coach
Ray (as James B. Sikking)
Quinn K. Redeker ...
Ward (as Quinn Redeker)
Meg Mundy ...
Elizabeth Hubbard ...


Beth, Calvin, and their son Conrad are living in the aftermath of the death of the other son. Conrad is overcome by grief and misplaced guilt to the extent of a suicide attempt. He is in therapy. Beth had always preferred his brother and is having difficulty being supportive to Conrad. Calvin is trapped between the two trying to hold the family together. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

suicide | death | therapy | friend | choir | See All (115) »


some films you watch, others you feel. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 February 1981 (Australia)  »

Also Known As:

Gente como uno  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$6,000,000 (estimated)


$54,800,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Jeanine called Conrad a tenor, but he is a baritone. See more »


When Conrad lies down on his bed before calling Jeannine, there is a bulletin board behind his head, on the wall above the bed. The bulletin board is missing in all other bedroom scenes. See more »


Conrad "Con" Jarrett: [Berger is pretending to be Buck, Con's older brother] Bucky, I didn't mean it! Bucky, I didn't meant it!
Dr. Berger: What?
Conrad "Con" Jarrett: I said put the sail down, but you said keep it starboard, and then we go over! And you say "Hang on, Hang on!", but then you let go! Why'd you let go?
Dr. Berger: Because I was tired!
Conrad "Con" Jarrett: Oh yeah? Well screw you, you jerk!
Dr. Berger: [Back in reality] It hurts to be mad at him, doesn't it?
Conrad "Con" Jarrett: God, I loved him. It's not fair. You just do one wrong thing.
Dr. Berger: And what was the one wrong thing you did?
Conrad "Con" Jarrett: I hung on. I stayed ...
See more »


Referenced in Cheers: Any Friend of Diane's (1982) See more »


For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
Sung by all at the party
See more »

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User Reviews

12 December 2004 | by (Conn) – See all my reviews

I saw Ordinary People when I was very young and had a very difficult time with the storyline.However, even then I think I knew I was watching something simply remarkable. Even after all these years, it's impact has not lessened, which I guess is a mark of an incredible movie. The movie is among the most disturbing I've ever viewed and the performances, at least to me, are among the best. I can't imagine viewing this movie without feeling absolutely drained afterwards and I think I may have been a bit to young to fully appreciate it, but I can't imagine giving this anything but a 10, it was absolutely flawless in it's storytelling.

I do think though, that a certain element of maturity is needed to view this, there are few I know who have not been touched or upset by the story and if one is to young or just not in the right mood to handle the heaviness(as I wasn't at the time),they may not be able to fully appreciate it. I still know people who cannot sit through this and I understand why but I hope this movie will be viewed by many who can handle it, it's impact is fierce, all the performances are incredible and Mary Tyler Moore's performance is among the best of any female lead ever.

87 of 112 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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