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Running on Empty (1988)

 -  Crime | Drama | Music  -  9 September 1988 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 8,353 users  
Reviews: 78 user | 37 critic

The eldest son of a fugitive family comes of age and wants to live a life of his own.

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Title: Running on Empty (1988)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Arthur Pope
Jonas Abry ...
Harry Pope
...
Ed Crowley ...
Mr. Phillips
L.M. Kit Carson ...
Gus Winant
...
Donald Patterson
Augusta Dabney ...
Abigail Patterson
...
Dr. Jonah Reiff
...
Contact at Eldridge St.
...
School Clerk
Sloane Shelton ...
Mrs. Phillips
Justine Johnston ...
Librarian
...
Hospital Clerk
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Storyline

The Popes are a family who haven't been able to use their real identity for years. In the late sixties, the parents set a weapons lab afire in an effort to hinder the government's Vietnam war campaign. Ever since then, the Popes have been on the run with the authorities never far behind. Today, their eldest son wants a life of his own although he is aware that would mean that his parents would either get caught or he will never see them again. Written by Kenneth Chisholm <kchishol@execulink.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

In 1971, Arthur and Annie Pope blew up a napalm lab to protest the war... Ever since then they have been on the run from the FBI. They chose their lives. Now their son must choose his.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Music | Romance

Certificate:

PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 September 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Al filo del vacío  »

Box Office

Gross:

$2,835,116 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Sidney Lumet writes in his book "Making Movies" about an argument between River Phoenix and writer Naomi Foner. A scene in the movie concerns the character played by Phoenix being interrupted while practicing a classical piano solo. In the script, when he is caught, he breaks into a jazz riff to cover his "embarrassment" at being caught doing something serious. Phoenix fought hard against this, feeling that his character would never be embarrassed about working at the piano. Lumet was so impressed by the point Phoenix made, he shot the scene the way Phoenix wanted it. See more »

Goofs

In the sequence when Danny discovers the Fed's cars following him and he sends the dog with his shoe to get his brother Harry, a person's left arm can be seen in the open door of the porch and it quickly moves back behind the door. Possibly the dog's handler; it doesn't seem to be Harry waiting to come out since he would have had his props in hand and the arm's height and size gives the impression of a person larger than Harry. See more »

Quotes

Michael: Aren't we supposed to question authority? You taught me that! Who do you think you are, General Patton?
See more »

Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: The Best Films of 1988 (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh Pretty Woman
Written by Roy Orbison & Bill Dees
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User Reviews

 
Sensitive, Touching Film
29 January 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Possibly the finest and most underappreciated film by Sidney Lumet, this movie has moments which grab you by the throat -- they are so powerful. The cast, which is outstanding (Judd Hirsch, Christine Lahti, and River Phoenix in particular), is part of the reason for its power. The characters are totally convincing. The young man played by River Phoenix is someone we must sympathize with: his dilemma is a lifelong choice between never seeing his loved ones again or continuing to grow as a very talented pianist. The choice is agonizing, and the ending is sure to bring tears to many eyes of people who are part of a close-knit family. One scene is particularly powerful and makes me tear up every time I watch it: The luncheon meeting between Annie, the mother (Christine Lahti) and her father, played by Steven Hill. The dialog during this scene is so convincing, and the acting is perfect. But River Phoenix is the main reason to see this beautiful film, and this simply underscores the tragedy of his death at an early age. He had already proved he was a talent of considerable promise with in Stand By Me and in Mosquito Coast. I fully recommend this film to all thinking people with feelings about the inevitable conflict between family and individuality. This is a small film -- what I call "a little gem" -- most of which are small budget films with great acting and centered around the subjects of families and their values. Also see Crossing Delancey, another "little gem".


26 of 30 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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When they abandoned the little dog, I lost all sympathy... farmerne
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