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Running on Empty (1988)

PG-13 | | Crime, Drama, Music | 9 September 1988 (USA)
The eldest son of a fugitive family comes of age and wants to live a life of his own.




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



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


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


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.


Crime | Drama | Music | Romance


PG-13 | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 September 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Flucht ins Ungewisse  »

Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)


$2,835,116 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Alan Pope (Judd Hirsch) would later establish a history of being suspected of a war protest bombing (Iraq, this time, however). In Numb3rs: Protest (2006), his character (also named Alan) he would have a history of protesting (albeit peacefully) the Vietnam war, and one of his sons is an FBI special agent, and in this film, he was wanted by the FBI. See more »


During Danny's Juilliard audition, one of the school's admissions officers stated that he needed to supply them with SAT scores. Juilliard does not, and never has, required applicants to submit standardized test scores. See more »


Arthur Pope: [Last Lines] Get the bike out of the back.
Arthur Pope: Now, get on it.
Michael: What are you talking about, dad...
Arthur Pope: Get on the bike. You're on your own, kid. I want you to go to Juilliard.
Michael: But, dad, I want to go with you.
Arthur Pope: We'll see you again. You can be sure.
Arthur Pope: Your mother has arranged things with your grandfather, alright- call him. And I think you have some friend's around here.
Annie Pope: I love you, baby.
See more »


Featured in Siskel & Ebert: Breakthrough Stars of 1992 (1992) See more »


Happy Birthday To You
Mildred J. Hill & Patty S. Hill
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User Reviews

Doesn't make the mistake of glorifying crime
19 January 2003 | by (Connecticut) – See all my reviews

This is a fantastic movie. Definitely one of the 5 best I've seen in recent memory. Someone that wrote a review here felt that the two parents are placed upon a pedestal by the film makers, but I don't think this is the case at all. They are accountable for their actions and know what they did was wrong. They have to pay for their actions throughout their lives and will likely turn themselves in as soon as they can be assured that their kids will be safe. The kids are the ones I feel sorry for, not the parents.

I think the main point of the movie is to make people aware of how the actions/decisions they make can hurt other people, including themselves. People often make rash decisions without thinking about the long term consequences their actions cause for themselves and other people.

23 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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