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Unstrung Heroes (1995)

Steven Lidz, unhappy with his home life since his mother got sick, goes and lives with his two crazy Uncles. There he changes and gets closer to his Uncles, but his parents want him home ... See full summary »



(book), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Selma Lidz
... Sid Lidz
... Danny Lidz
... Arthur Lidz
Nathan Watt ... Steven / Franz Lidz
... May
... Amelia
... Lindquist
... Joanie (as Candy Azzara)
... Sandy Lidz
... Ash (as Joey Andrews)
Lillian Adams ... Aunt Estelle
... Uncle Melvin
Sumer Stamper ... Nancy Oppenheim
Sean P. Donahue ... Ralph Crispi (as Sean Donahue)


Steven Lidz, unhappy with his home life since his mother got sick, goes and lives with his two crazy Uncles. There he changes and gets closer to his Uncles, but his parents want him home even though he is finally happy and popular. Written by Todd Weiser <nceppjrw@pop.flash.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sometimes you find your heroes in the most unlikely places.


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for emotional subject matter | See all certifications »




Release Date:

22 September 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Entfesselte Helden  »


Box Office

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Henry Winkler auditioned for the role of Danny Lidz. He arrived in character and in full costume. See more »


Uncle Melvin: And there are demented schmucks who are not welcome.
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Written by Pierre Degeyter and Eugène Pottier (as Eugene Pottier)
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User Reviews

"You're the one to watch, Franz."
5 February 2005 | by See all my reviews

Directed by Diane Keaton, this is a beautiful, child's eye view of a difficult but enlightening period in a young boy's life. From Franz Lidz's autobiographical book, it's the story of his experiences coming to terms with his mother's cancer (described to him by his father as "a very bad cold"), and the changes within his family brought about by her illness. Offered little more in the way of explanation or reassurance by his father who is naturally overwhelmed with losing his beautiful wife (well-played by Andie MacDowell), the boy bonds for the first time with his two endearingly oddball uncles. The emotional aspects and situations are expressed subtly but richly, with a warm cinematic vision.

John Turturro is excellent as the boy's father, who we see as being rather cold and cerebral, always preoccupied and dismissive. The father is a genius, the mother tells her son, explaining that his scientific mind might make him seem like he's from another planet, but to try and cut him some slack and learn to appreciate him. His true feeling and human quality is finally exposed when, during an extended study of his face late in the film, Turturro shows us all the emotion of this brilliant young man who is helpless in the face of his wife's devastating disease.

The certifiably mad Uncle Danny is played by Michael Richards, who is finally given the opportunity to bring his Kramer, of Seinfeld fame, to a fully realized and hilariously paranoid characterization. Going to live for a time with Uncle Arthur and Uncle Danny, the boy, Steven (re- named "Franz" by his uncles and played impressively by then 12-year-old Nathan Watt) experiences a look into his family history and decides to study for his Bar Mitzvah, contrary to his atheist father's wishes. He also cleverly engineers a solution to the "Lindquist Problem" (a war the uncles have going on with their landlord), and learns to care for and about the two of them. Thus he returns home to his immediate family and his dying mother, newly confident and better equipped to cherish the remaining moments of her life.

This is a special movie and I couldn't recommend it more highly. There's no sense of the maudlin where it might have gone that way, but there is great humor that will be enjoyable to a wide range of ages.

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