A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Through their experiences, some of the characters begin to question, and in some ways reject, the shallow divisiveness of high school cliques. Characters resort to violence as a solution to their problems, with consequences.
Positive Role Models
While the circumstances are not the best, it's strongly implied that Ponyboy has changed for the better as a result of his experiences as a "greaser" from the wrong side of the tracks in constant battle with the "Soc" rich kids on the other side of town. Johnny also sees the meaninglessness of teen gangs fighting over "turf," in the bigger picture. Teen characters struggle amid tremendous obstacles: parents who died tragically, parents who are abusive and neglectful, poverty, and bullying.
Violence & Scariness
Storylines revolve around fighting and 1950s gang violence. A character is stabbed to death. Three of the characters save the lives of children who are trapped in a burning abandoned church; the children are screaming and the three characters sustain serious injuries requiring hospitalization. Fighting with knives, bottles, and fists. Armed robbery, gun to the face of the clerk, who fires his own gun at the assailant as he makes his escape; this same assailant dies of gunshot wounds when surrounded by the police. Talk of physical abuse from parents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A teen girl rejects the drunken sexual advances of her boyfriend while they're at a drive-in movie theater. At this same drive-in, a clearly drunk teen raises the skirt of a teen girl, exposing her panties. A "greaser" teen asks a teen girl with red hair, in so many words, if her pubic hair is the same color.
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Occasional profanity: "damn," "son of a bitch," "bastards," "wiseass." Middle-finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Cans of Budweiser beer clearly marked.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Frequent drinking and smoking among teens. Some of the teen characters appear and act drunk.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Outsiders is the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film adaptation of a novel detailing the coming-of-age of "greaser" teens in 1950s Tulsa as they contend with not just bullying and physical attacks from the rich kids on the other side of the tracks but also abuse and neglect from their parents at home, poverty, and bleak future prospects. Characters drink, smoke, get in fights, harass schoolchildren, use knives and guns, and commit murder. One character is severely burned and dies. Additionally, the film deals frankly with class stratification. A teen girl rejects the drunken sexual advances of her boyfriend while they're at a drive-in movie theater. At this same drive-in, a clearly drunk teen raises the skirt of a teen girl, exposing her panties. A "greaser" teen asks a teen girl with red hair, in so many words, if her pubic hair is the same color. Occasional profanity includes "damn," "son of a bitch," "bastards," and "wiseass," and expect to see the middle-finger gesture. Note: The original cut of the movie was rated PG in 1983, before the PG-13 rating existed. The edited/extended cut released in 2003 carries the PG-13 rating. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
THE OUTSIDERS, Francis Ford Coppola's inspired adaptation of S.E. Hinton's novel, combines a talented ensemble cast with an engaging story. It's in some ways a scare film. Characters suffer for their bad behavior, and occasionally the treatment seems a bit heavy-handed. Coppola's direction is brilliant, as evidenced by his attention to detail. In particular, the soundtrack manages to contribute to the drama without feeling manipulative.
The collaborative work of the young cast also serves as a testament to the director's skill. Coppola even wrenches a convincing performance out of Patrick Swayze as the oldest Curtis brother. As the pretty, popular cheerleader Cherry, Diane Lane manages to avoid coming across as condescending. The real stars of the show, however, are Howell as the sensitive Ponyboy and Dillon as the time bomb Dallas. The special-edition DVD entitled The Outsiders - The Complete Novel features several extras, including over 22 minutes of original, cut footage, a new soundtrack featuring songs by Elvis Presley, and a news segment on the student petition that started it all.
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.