7.1/10
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My Own Private Idaho (1991)

R | | Drama | 20 July 1991 (Japan)
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2:16 | Trailer
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

Writer:

Gus Van Sant (screenplay)
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Popularity
1,548 ( 501)
9 wins & 9 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
River Phoenix ... Mike Waters
Keanu Reeves ... Scott Favor
James Russo ... Richard Waters
William Richert ... Bob Pigeon
Rodney Harvey ... Gary
Chiara Caselli ... Carmella
Michael Parker Michael Parker ... Digger
Jessie Thomas Jessie Thomas ... Denise
Flea ... Budd
Grace Zabriskie ... Alena
Tom Troupe Tom Troupe ... Jack Favor
Udo Kier ... Hans
Sally Curtice Sally Curtice ... Jane Lightwork
Robert Lee Pitchlynn Robert Lee Pitchlynn ... Walt
Mickey Cottrell ... Daddy Carroll
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Storyline

Mike Waters lives on the street and befriends the somewhat older and streetwise Scott Favor who shows him what is necessary to survive. Waters suffers from narcolepsy and can fall asleep at any moment and in almost any circumstance. Favor comes from a rich family and is rebelling against his own background. They travel together extensively - Waters is driven by the need to find his biological mother - and spend time in Italy. Later in life however, Favor has joined mainstream society and has little time for his old friend. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

whatever it takes to have a nice day See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sensuality, language and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian | German

Release Date:

20 July 1991 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

A Caminho de Idaho See more »

Filming Locations:

Oregon, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$6,401,336

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,401,336
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Ultra Stereo | Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Alphacine)

Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film's title was taken from the The B-52's song "Private Idaho", released in 1980. Ironically, said tune was never used in the movie, nor is it on the soundtrack album. See more »

Goofs

When Bob approaches Scott in the bar near the end of the film, two marks of black gaffer tape can be seen on the floor. See more »

Quotes

Mike Waters: [shouting at rabbit on roadside] Oooh-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo-woo! Where do you think you're running, man? We're stuck here together, you s**t!
See more »

Connections

Featured in Here's Looking at You, Boy (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Home on the Range
Music Composed by Daniel E. Kelley (as Daniel E. Kelley)
Lyrics by Brewster M. Higley (as Dr. Brewster M. Higley)
Performed by Bill Stafford
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A triumph of pathos and bitter poetry
10 March 2005 | by Asa_Nisi_Masa2See all my reviews

I adore this movie, have owned it on VHS long before there was anything else and have seen it an insane number of times. It isn't perfect, but with me personally, though I'm a European female and thus have no personal life experience that could resemble anything the main characters go through, it struck a chord of universality that made it heart-breaking. The pathos in it, the bitter poetry, the warped magic is just unbelievably beautiful... and painful. It is visually inventive and the casting - even Keanu Reeves's, which has been so often criticised - is top-notch. Reeves's character is a flippant, spoilt young man who goes through life acting in his own self-glorifying drama: what better actor to cast in that role than someone whose acting is so contrived? And Phoenix... well, what can I say... to me, this is THE River Phoenix role, the one that can single-handedly turn him into an immortal, a legend. The Shakespearian quotations I adored: the relationship between Prince Hal and Falstaff from Henry IV, Part II is among the most mesmerising of the Bard's dramatic repertoire - that play was like an emotional earthquake to me. My Own Private Idaho caught its spirit perfectly, and translated it into a context that was original in its own right yet more faithful to Shakespeare in feeling than a more literal transposition might have been. Also, I found the portrayal of Rome in the part in which River's character goes out there to search for his mother, refreshingly true to life and totally cliché-free. As an Italian from Rome, it's very rare that I see a non-Italian film portraying my city of origin with so much authenticity. The FEEL of the place at a given time - the late 80s - was spot-on. In conclusion: to me, not only was My Own Private Idaho one of the best adaptations of (at least parts) of a Shakespeare play that I've seen, but also a tragedy of almost Shakespearian intensity in its own right. It had it all: the unhealthy, consuming passion (the fatal flaw), the power struggles, the young heir in his reckless, youthful days eventually maturing into the arrogance of the privileged (Keanu), the parental ghost that one of the protagonists looks to as his prophetic voice, the voice that may give his life a meaning (River's search for and the flashbacks to the memory of his mother), the intense pathos throughout, the tragic deaths at the end... that film is just pure magic to me! Just writing about it makes me want to see it again - what, for the 20th time or something?! And the tragedy at My Own Private Idaho's core is so universal, it really becomes completely secondary whether it's about and between men, women, homosexuals or heterosexuals.


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