Parents' Guide to

Rumble Fish

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Teen-gang saga is more intense, violent than the book.

Movie R 1983 94 minutes
Rumble Fish Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 12+


i've only watched the trailer because i am on ch 1 of the book but from the traie ive seen kissing buti like the novel

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
age 17+

One of my favorite films of all time

I realize that's not saying it's the best ever made, but it certainly marked me so much as to regard it as on of my all-time faves. The movie reminisces of Elia Kazan's Dean movies, and "The Wild One" starring Marlon Brando. Just as those movies, Rumble Fish is about violence as a consequence of uncomprehension; loneliness; and family relations in a sordid, black and white environment. Not even this choice is random, as its B&W filming is yet another commentary on life as seen through the eyes of its characters - and author. Every scene in this movie brings a realization, though some of the dialogues are indeed a bit naive when seen after its time. And here I could engage in a debate on "naiveté" vs. "savvy", and whether an innocent view of life really means less message depth, but I digress. The point is, I'm a 45-year old man and I still cry every time I see this movie. The first time I saw Rumble Fish, I thought I identified with the Motorcycle boy and his alienation from the world he was put in. After a few more times, I realized more and more that I "was" Rusty-James - That, to an extent, EVERY man is a little Rusty-James; trying to live up to a hero image, and helplessly watching as your ideal slips past your reach and lets himself be killed, without you ever understanding anything until it's too late... or is it? Where Mel Gibson and Bruce Willis speak to the hero we WANT to be, Matt Dillon speaks to the MEN who want to be that hero, and leads the way out. *sigh* The astounding soundtrack, exquisite photography and perfect takes don't hurt any, either. Buy it, rent it, whatever. See the goddamn movie. It is worth a try.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3):
Kids say (5):

After a scrupulously faithful, even overcautious adaptation of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders, director Francis Ford Coppola did this wildly stylized rendering of another Hinton property. Instead of playing it safe, the director shot RUMBLE FISH in black-and-white (with striking trick-photography color inserts) inventive camera angles, dynamic editing, sideways dialogue, and surreal staging. Sometimes the themes gets lost in all the hypnotic audio-visuals (some of which may be conveying Motorcycle Boy's color blindness and partial deafness), but the acting is strong. It says something that, while a lot of 1980s movies tried to be music-videos, no critics accused Rumble Fish of turning MTV, even though rock musician Stewart Copeland of The Police composed the soundtrack. Rather, this is a youth-gang violence saga transformed by Coppola into an "art film" (a very R-rated one) with all the positives and negatives that go along with filmmaker indulgence. Readers who already absorbed the messages via the book may be most forgiving of the riffs on Hinton's powerful narrative.

Movie Details

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