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After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized; over 10 years later, they get their chance for revenge.



(book), (screenplay)
2,041 ( 290)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:


Four boys growing up in Hell's Kitchen play a prank that leads to an old man getting hurt. Sentenced to no less than one year in the Wilkenson Center in upstate New York, the four friends are changed by the beating, humiliation and sexual abuse by the guards sworn to protect them. Thirteen years later and a chance meeting lead to a chance for revenge against the Wilkenson Center and the guards. Written by

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Four friends made a mistake that changed their lives forever. See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language, graphic violence and two scenes of strong sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

18 October 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Los hijos de la calle  »

Box Office


$44,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$12,305,745 (USA) (18 October 1996)


$53,300,852 (USA) (24 January 1997)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The movie was filmed at the former psychiatric hospital, Fairfield Hills, located in Newtown, CT, right after the state took possession of the property. See more »


Shakes mentioned he will meet Mike at 45 Street in Queens. He gets off the IRT subway at this stop, which is actually 45 Road in Long Island City. The real 45 Street is several miles further east in the Astoria/Sunnyside section of Queens. See more »


[first lines]
Lorenzo: This is a true story about friendship that runs deeper than blood. This is my story and that of the only three friends in my life that truely mattered. Two of them were killers who never made it past the age of 30. The other's a non-practicing attorney living with the pain of his past - too afraid to let it go, never confronting its horror. I'm the only one who can speak for them, and the children we were.
See more »


Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Bill Pullman/New Edition (1996) See more »


Walk Like A Man
Performed by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons
Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio (as Robert Gaudio)
Courtesy of The Four Seasons Partnership
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

An Interesting Film...
25 July 2011 | by (India) – See all my reviews

Legedndary Filmmaker Barry Levinson's 'Sleepers' is An Interesting Film to watch. Based on Lorenzo Carcaterra's 1995 novel of the same name, this legal drama comes in-tact with skilled direction & proficient performances to lead it's narrative.

After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized, physically & mentally. Over 10 years later, they get their chance for revenge.

Barry Levinson's Adpated Screenplay is Convincing. The film has interesting & absorbing moments in the first hour as well as in the second hour. However, the film gets too intense at times, and the faint-hearted are sure to shy away from those portions. Also, the film is very long. It definitely could've been trimmed. Levinson's direction is skilled. Michael Ballhaus's Cinematography is good. Editing is okay. Music by John Williams is impressive.

Performance-Wise: Kevin Bacon is effective as the bad guy. Dustin Hoffman is first-rate, while Bobby De Niro delivers a subdued performance. Brad Pitt is extremely natural. Jason Patric does well. Minnie Driver leaves a mark. Brad Renfro is passable. Others lend good support.

On the whole, 'Sleepers' is worth a watch, as it succeeds by holding your attention almost throughout. Thumbs Up!

10 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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