7.7/10
11,446
92 user 41 critic

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.

Director:

Writer:

Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

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

People who liked this also liked... 

Dogfight (1991)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Before leaving to fight in Vietnam, a group of teenagers play a game where they try to seduce the ugliest girl they can find.

Director: Nancy Savoca
Stars: River Phoenix, Lili Taylor, Richard Panebianco
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Two best friends living on the streets of Portland as hustlers embark on a journey of self discovery and find their relationship stumbling along the way.

Director: Gus Van Sant
Stars: River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, James Russo
Little Nikita (1988)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

An FBI agent works to uncover an All-American family as Soviet sleeper agents and gets caught up in friendship with their unaware son.

Director: Richard Benjamin
Stars: Sidney Poitier, River Phoenix, Richard Jenkins
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  

A group of newcomers to the country music business seek love and stardom.

Director: Peter Bogdanovich
Stars: River Phoenix, Samantha Mathis, Dermot Mulroney
Dark Blood (2012)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Dealing with nuclear testing and its long-lasting deadly effects, the story portrays Boy, a young widower living in the desert on a nuclear testing site. Living as a hermit, he waits for ... See full summary »

Director: George Sluizer
Stars: River Phoenix, Judy Davis, Jonathan Pryce
Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An inventor spurns his city life to move his family into the jungles of Central America to make an utopia.

Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Joey owns a pizza parlor, and is married to Rosalie. He's also a serial womanizer. Rosalie goes to extremes when she finds he has been cheating.

Director: Lawrence Kasdan
Stars: Kevin Kline, Tracey Ullman, William Hurt
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Treat Williams, Jerry Orbach, Richard Foronjy
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A charming womanizer has to find a way to get $80 to elope to Hawaii with his one true love, or else go to his father's chosen business school.

Director: William Richert
Stars: River Phoenix, Ann Magnuson, Meredith Salenger
Daniel (1983)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Daniel Isaacson attempts to determine the true complicity of his parents Paul and Rochelle Isaacson, who were executed for espionage in the 1950s.

Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Timothy Hutton, Mandy Patinkin, Lindsay Crouse
Silent Tongue (1993)
Drama | Horror | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

Mad with grief after the death of his Kiowa wife, Talbot awaits death under a tree with her body beside him. She begins to haunt him because he won't burn her. His father, who bought him the wife, thinks her sister might reason with him.

Director: Sam Shepard
Stars: Alan Bates, Richard Harris, River Phoenix
Edit

Cast

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

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:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 September 1988 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Flucht ins Ungewisse  »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,835,116
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was No. 10 on Roger Ebert's list of the Best Films of 1988. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Arthur Pope: Now, go out there and make a difference. Your mother and I tried. Don't let anyone tell you different.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

Happy Birthday To You
Mildred J. Hill & Patty S. Hill
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A joy to watch, every time.
7 September 2002 | by See all my reviews

I have dozens of movies on videotape, but if I could only keep one, Running on Empty would be it. I've lost count how many times I've watched it. It works on every level. Emotionally, you cannot help caring about the characters, all of them. The premise, living "underground" in ordinary American suburbia, is brilliant and instantly engaging. The story, coming of age on the lam, flows effortlessly, with hardly a slow spot, and keeps me engaged, even after umpteen viewings. The romance, of love and loss and dedication, brings a tear every time, even just thinking about the birthday party as I write this.

Plus -- I was a 'red diaper baby' who became a conservative republican 35 years ago, and this film touches every button of my past. A lot of those reds were, in person, truly decent people, just a bit deranged and extremely delusional and dogmatic, all of which Judd Hirsch conveys with perfect pitch. No special FX, pretty tame action (mostly involving music and dancing), only six main characters, but a great entertaining and inspirational film.

Rated 9.9 out of 10, in case something better ever comes along.

P.S. I just got the DVD. Even better than the tape. Elsewhere I have read complaints about its technical quality, but I can see nothing wrong with it.


55 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 92 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page