A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A teen crawls through a window into his girlfriend's room at night (just to talk).
Violence & Scariness
Danny's parents were part in the 1971 activist bombing of a napalm lab.
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An isolated five-syllable outburst contains the "f-word."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the movie features an emotionally intense theme -- two boys facing the loss of their parents at any time -- that may be unsuitable for younger or more sensitive kids. Other than that, there's one isolated outburst of profanity and a teenager crawls through a window into his girlfriend's room at night (only to talk). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
RUNNING ON EMPTY starts off pretty slow, but once you accept the characters and their particular situation, the movie starts coming fully to life, wrapping itself around your heart and squeezing. Hard. Sure they're fleeing the law, but the Popes do it cleverly, peacefully, and ultimately with their lads' best interests in mind. The performances are good and the story a compelling and original one, but the characters take a while to warm up to. Sydney Lumet's tale of a boy who must choose between his family and a life of his own builds slowly to something passionate, admirable, and refreshingly original.
The film's greatest strength comes from the thoroughly believable relationship between Danny and Lorna. Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Danny. All of the FBI and activism stuff is just frosting and rosettes; these two are the real cake of the movie. College-bound teens will identify with Danny, a strong central character who, on a grander scale, is experiencing something we all go through in the course of growing up: making life-changing decisions.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.