Parents' Guide to

My Own Private Idaho

By Sierra Filucci, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Delicate portrayal of street hustlers has heavy themes.

Movie R 1991 104 minutes
My Own Private Idaho Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+
age 18+


I started to watch this movie because I loved River Phoenix and I grew up watching Stand by Me and Running on Empty. From the outset, this movie exploits River (IMHO), especially given his real-life childhood and background. So, nope. I shut it off after about 5-10 minutes in.

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (4):

Both River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves carry strong performances in this unusual and poignant film. Though Reeves sometimes struggles to immerse himself fully into the character, his screen presence is riveting. Phoenix, on the other hand, is completely enveloped by his character, creating scenes of deep emotion and tenderness. His performance underscores the tragedy of his later death. The portrayal of the street hustling scene is fascinating to outsiders -- showing both the sadness and danger inherent in the life, as well as touching on the freedom experienced by those who have given up traditional life. Still, this is heavy stuff for most teens, so parents might want to prepare for some follow-up discussion.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: September 21, 1991
  • On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2005
  • Cast: James Russo, Keanu Reeves, River Phoenix
  • Director: Gus Van Sant
  • Inclusion Information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 104 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: violence, nudity, strong sexual content, profanity.
  • Last updated: October 8, 2022

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