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This Boy's Life (1993)

R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  23 April 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 32,321 users   Metascore: 60/100
Reviews: 82 user | 36 critic | 16 from Metacritic.com

The story about the relationship between a rebellious 50s teenager and his abusive father, based on the memoirs of writer and literature professor Tobias Wolff.


(book), (screenplay)
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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Arthur Gayle
Zachary Ansley ...
Skipper (as Zack Ansley)
Tracey Ellis ...
Robert Zameroski ...
Arch Cook (as Bobby Zameroski)
Chuck Bolger
Tristan Tait ...
Jerry Huff
Travis MacDonald ...
Richard Liss ...
A & P Manager


In 1957, a son and mother flee the East and an abusive boyfriend to find a new life, and end up in Seattle, where the mother meets a polite garage mechanic. The boy continually gets into trouble by hanging out with the wrong crowd. The mom marries the mechanic, but they soon find out that he's an abusive and unreasoning alcoholic, and they struggle to maintain hope in an impossible situation as the boy grows up with plans to escape the small town by any means possible. Based on a true story by Tobias Wolff. Written by Ed Sutton <esutton@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A true story based on the award-winning book by Tobias Wolff. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language and sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 April 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Vida Deste Rapaz  »

Box Office


$4,104,962 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tobey Maguire's movie debut. See more »


Speedometer on car reads the same when Dwight Hansen drives erratically to scare Tobias and then later on when Tobias takes Dwight's car for a joy ride; also the speedometer says speeds of 70 mph plus yet the odometer never moves. See more »


[first lines]
Tobias 'Toby' Wolff: It was 1957. We were driving from Florida to Utah. After my mother was beaten up by her boyfriend, we got in the Nash and high-tailed it for the uranium fields. We were gonna get rich and change our luck, which hadn't been so hot since our family broke up five years back.
See more »


References I Love Lucy (1951) See more »


C'mon Everybody
Written by Eddie Cochran and Jerry Capehart'
Performed by Eddie Cochran
See more »

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User Reviews

A remarkably compelling piece of work, with groundbreaking performances by DeNiro and DiCaprio
9 February 2002 | by (Jersey City, NJ) – See all my reviews

I heard of this movie before, but I had no knowledge of what it was about, and basically rented it because it looked good and Robert DeNiro is the star--my Number One favorite actor.

Well, DeNiro's performance is one of the high points of the film, and he is extraordinary as the abusive father who seems pleasant and jovial at times, but can turn violent when you push his buttons. Leonardo DiCaprio is also great, in one of the best performances of his career. Over the years, he's been gaining a reputation as a glamour guy. And that he is, but you must see his performance in this movie before regarding him as "just another pretty face." He was still in his early teens (I'm guessing) when he made this film, so this was a long time before he hit it big with "Titanic." Ellen Barkin is also good, but I wish her character could've been developed a little more. I kept wondering, during the course of the film, why she felt like withstanding Dwight's abuse for such a long period of time. In the beginning of the film, she's established as a free spirit--the kind of woman that romances a man, then drives off to another state to find her next man. Well, why didn't she do the same thing with this jerk? The film is based on a true story, so I'm sure she really did stay with him that long, but I just wanted to know her motives.

"This Boy's Life" is a solid, beautifully made slice-of-life that kept me glued to the screen from start to finish. The climax is an emotional powerhouse that made me want to stand up and cheer. Please check out this underrated masterpiece!

My score: 9 (out of 10)

59 of 66 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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