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Running On Empty (1988)

  PG-13 Closed Captioning

Sidney Lumet

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About the Movie

River Phoenix rose to stardom -- and an Academy Award-nomination -- in this poignant drama from director Sidney Lumet ("The Verdict," "Dog Day Afternoon"). Ex-radicals Judd Hirsch ("Independence Day," "Taxi") and Oscar, Golden Globe and Emmy-winner Christine Lahti (TV's "Chicago Hope," "Swing Shift") have raised their family in hiding, constantly moving and changing aliases to flee facing charges from an inadvertent crime they committed as war protestors 15 years earlier. As their eldest son (Phoenix) comes of age, he is torn between running with his beloved fugitive parents, or developing his musical talents and pursuing his own life, which includes new girlfriend (Martha Plimpton, "The Mosquito Coast," "Goonies"). Nominated for two Oscars and 4 Golden Globe Awards, including Best Picture, Actress and Director, Siskel & Ebert call this " of Lumet's best of the best movies of the year...the acting in this film is wonderful," while the Los Angeles Times praises this as " of those rare films likely to mean as much to teens as it does to their parents...uncommonly tender, funny and lifelike...a major American film."

Customer Reviews

this movie is defenitley not running on empty!

this film is a truly classic heart-warming film starring the late great River Phoenix, if you are a River fan then this is a must have!

A Well-Acted Gem

One of those quietly affecting, bittersweet films that reveals new layers upon each viewing. Running On Empty is a well-told and well-acted story about family, loyalty, letting go, and a whole host of other themes handled with subtlety by script, director, and cast. While River Phoenix was deservedly Oscar-nominated for his role, and he owns many of the most poignant and memorable moments (sometimes shared by real-life girlfriend Martha Plimpton, with whom he has excellent chemistry), Christine Lahti is also very good as his mother. A bit of a tear-jerker, but in a good way.


Beautiful acting, writing and directing comes together to create an emotionally poiniant and moving film. Every character is fleshed out and real, every performance believable. No stereotypes, no bad-guy, no fancy camera work or special FX. Just a simple story of family, love, responsibility, and...letting go. Sidney Lumet once again delivers a classic, a film that can be appreciated by parents and kids of all ages (although there are some curse words in there, in case you're strict about your kids not hearing that). If you like this movie and you become a fan of Sidney Lumet, check out some of his other classic films like: SERPICO, 12 ANGRY MEN, THE VERDICT, and BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD. In the meantime, buy RUNNING ON EMPTY. Not only is it a great movie, but at 5 bucks, it's a steal.

Running On Empty (1988)
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  • $9.99
  • Genre: Drama
  • Released: 1988

Customer Ratings