7.7/10
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98 user 45 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:

Sidney Lumet

Writer:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Christine Lahti ... Annie Pope
River Phoenix ... Danny Pope
Judd Hirsch ... Arthur Pope
Jonas Abry Jonas Abry ... Harry Pope
Martha Plimpton ... Lorna Phillips
Ed Crowley ... Mr. Phillips
L.M. Kit Carson ... Gus Winant
Steven Hill ... Donald Patterson
Augusta Dabney Augusta Dabney ... Abigail Patterson
David Margulies ... Dr. Jonah Reiff
Lynne Thigpen ... Contact at Eldridge St.
Marcia Jean Kurtz ... School Clerk
Sloane Shelton ... Mrs. Phillips
Justine Johnston Justine Johnston ... Librarian
Herb Lovelle ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 September 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Flucht ins Ungewisse See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$7,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$215,157, 11 September 1988

Gross USA:

$2,835,116

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,847,941
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Arthur meets the contact in front of the Eldridge Street Synagogue, which was built on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1887 by immigrants from Eastern Europe. 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

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 At the Movies: The Best Films of 1988 (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Oh Pretty Woman
Written by Roy Orbison & Bill Dees
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant, warm, convincing, straight up drama with great acting
18 June 2018 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Running on Empty

First of all, what a great performance by River Phoenix. In fact, there are smart, convincing, warm performances by all the main cast. At first you might feel this is a movie about a couple on the lam for a long-ago crime, and that they happened to have two kids. But really the opening of the movie, an inside view from Phoenix's character's situation, makes clear that he is the start, and the fulcrum, around which the rest of the characters swing. So the movie ends up being an interpersonal drama, and you sympathize with everyone, even if they have done a "bad" thing. This is open to your judgement, for sure...a 1960s radical sentiment on the part of the left leaning director, Syndey Lumet, who had the early uber-classic "12 Angry Men" as well as "Serpico" and many others. It was Lumet who drew me to the film, but it was Phoenix who stole the show (and who breaks your heart knowing how young he committed suicide). Look for the kind of classic filming and editing you'd expect from this well-schooled director. It's a warm film, and it avoids pretentiousness and artifice, turning instead to the innate abilities of the actors, including a young Marth Plimpton. Plimpton is wonderful, and she is given some classic lines, funny and perceptive just as you'd expect this kind of girl to be. (Plimpton was in another movie with Phoenix, "The Mosquito Coast," two years earlier.) So watch this, for sure. It was nominated for a ton of awards, and overcomes what seems to be a contrived, tightly focussed impossibility of a plot and makes it work. Very well!


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