7.7/10
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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.

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writer:

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

Photos

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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 ... 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 older 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Sidney Lumet writes in his book "Making Movies" about an argument between River Phoenix and writer Naomi Foner. A scene in the movie concerns the character played by Phoenix being interrupted while practicing a classical piano solo. In the script, when he is caught, he breaks into a jazz riff to cover his "embarrassment" at being caught doing something serious. Phoenix fought hard against this, feeling that his character would never be embarrassed about working at the piano. Lumet was so impressed by the point Phoenix made, he shot the scene the way Phoenix wanted it. 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

Michael: If you want to go back, that's fine with me.
Lorna: You're a bully.
Michael: No. I'm a liar.
See more »

Connections

References Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

Lucky Star
Written by Madonna
Performed by Madonna
See more »

User Reviews

 
River Phoenix at his best.
4 January 2000 | by gsprodsSee all my reviews

The best reason to watch this film is of course the performance by River Phoenix, which now that he's dead, we will never know if he could have topped this. He was one of the youngest actors ever nominated for an Oscar. Another reason to watch the film is Christine Lahti from Chicago Hope who gives her best screen performance here. She won the Los Angeles Film Critic's award for Best Actress of 1988 and received a Golden Globe nomination but unfortunately she must have just missed when they announced who the five finalists were for the Oscar. She has two scenes in this film where she just tore my heart out, including one with Steven Hill from Law And Order who plays her father. The movie did get an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay and made many top ten lists, including Roger Ebert's. Although it wasn't a box office hit, I believe it will be remembered as one of Director Sidney Lumet's best films and certainly the best one to watch if you want to remember why the talented actor River Phoenix's death was so tragic.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

9 September 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Running on Empty 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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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