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This Boy's Life (1993)

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The story about the relationship between a rebellious 1950s teenager and his abusive stepfather, based on the memoirs of writer and literature Professor Tobias Wolff.

Writers:

Tobias Wolff (book), Robert Getchell (screenplay)
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Popularity
3,655 ( 536)
2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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David Merrill (Robert De Niro), a fictitious 1950s Hollywood Director, returns from filming abroad in France to find that his loyalty has been called into question by the House Committee on... See full summary »

Director: Irwin Winkler
Stars: Robert De Niro, Annette Bening, George Wendt
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert De Niro ... Dwight
Ellen Barkin ... Caroline
Leonardo DiCaprio ... Toby
Jonah Blechman ... Arthur Gayle
Eliza Dushku ... Pearl
Chris Cooper ... Roy
Carla Gugino ... Norma
Zachary Ansley ... Skipper (as Zack Ansley)
Tracey Ellis ... Kathy
Kathy Kinney ... Marian
Robert Zameroski Robert Zameroski ... Arch Cook (as Bobby Zameroski)
Tobey Maguire ... Chuck Bolger
Tristan Tait Tristan Tait ... Jerry Huff
Travis MacDonald Travis MacDonald ... Psycho
Richard Liss Richard Liss ... A & P Manager
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

He looked like the ideal husband. He seemed like the perfect father. That's just what they needed. But that's not what they got. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 April 1993 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

This Boy's Life See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$74,425, 11 April 1993

Gross USA:

$4,104,962

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,104,962
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer Art Linson knew the film would be a tough sell. When he attended a test screening of the film with the Warner Brothers executives, he asked an old lady what she thought of the film. To his delight, he found out that she loved the film. He later found out that the old lady was Robert De Niro's grandmother. See more »

Goofs

When they're all having dinner after Caroline wins the shooting contest, Skipper asks Pearl for the salt and pepper and you can just about see that Pearl is not wearing glasses. But in the next shot of her, she is wearing glasses. See more »

Quotes

[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 »


Soundtracks

Moonlight Bay
Written and performed by Percy Wenrich and Edward Madden
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User Reviews

Memorable, But Difficult To Watch
10 June 2007 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

This was a very haunting, sometimes very difficult story to watch unfold on screen. It was one of the first films I recollect seeing when I went berserk collecting tons of VHS tapes in the mid-90s. I had never heard of Leonardo DiCaprio, but I'm just I wasn't alone as this was his second or third time on screen. Anyway, he certainly gave a powerful performance and served notice he was going to be a "big name" actor.

Basically, it's about teenage kid and his mom trying to survive the mean father-husband of the family in a small town during the 1950s. Robert De Niro plays the dad and Ellen Barkin, the mom. This may be the only film I've seen in which Barkin actually played the nicest person of the leads!! Leo plays "Tobias Wolffe;" De Niro, "Dwight Hansen" and Barkin, "Caroline Hansen." She had remarried Hansen after having "Toby" earlier, hence the surname "Wolffe."

What made this story tough for me was that, to be honest, neither father nor son were nice guys, although De Niro's character was far worse. The struggles - and that's putting it tactfully - between father and son were really nasty. Yet, as unpleasant at is, the story is memorable and it haunted me for several days, especially since it is "based" on a true story. How much of this was true, I can't say, but it is a dramatic story you will not dismiss. However, watching dysfunctional families and hearing a lot of verbal abuse is not fun, so be warned.


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