The Outsiders

Movie review by
Carly Kocurek, Common Sense Media
The Outsiders Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Coppola's take on classic book has strong violence.
  • PG-13
  • 1983
  • 114 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 30 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 128 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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. 


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: "damn," "son of a bitch," "bastards," "wiseass." Middle-finger gesture. 


Cans of Budweiser beer clearly marked. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Frequent drinking and smoking among teens. Some of the teen characters appear and act drunk. 

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygamenerd323 December 6, 2009
Adult Written byHill0610 April 23, 2021
Teen, 14 years old Written byEgj28 May 14, 2015

The Outsiders

I watched this movie at my school after we had read the book in class. *POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD* Violence: 6/10 This movie has some violence on screen (punchin... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written byellie.matthews March 16, 2017

inside view of The Outsiders

The Outsiders tells the story of two social groups, The Greasers and The Socs, whose bitter rivalry and hate for one another stems from the different social cla... Continue reading

What's the story?

The Curtis brothers and their friends run with a pack of wrong-side-of-the tracks greasers who smoke endless packs of cigarettes and spend most of their time looking for trouble. When Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny Cade (Ralph Macchio) have a run-in with a pack of Socs after a drive-in movie, Johnny stabs one of the Socs. At the advice of their friend Dallas (Matt Dillon), they hide out in an abandoned church, but a tragic chain of events has already begun to unfold.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about class divisions. Why does Cherry tell Ponyboy that she can't talk to him at school? What makes the division between the Socs and the greasers readily apparent? What can explain the origin of the rivalry between the two groups?

  • Why do you think people -- and teens in particular -- feel a need to form cliques, gangs, and social groups that stand apart from others? How does this movie attempt to show the camaraderie but also the big-picture absurdity in being involved too closely with cliques, gangs, and social groups? 

  • In what ways is this movie a powerful example of a coming-of-age movie? What do you think is the timeless appeal of "coming-of-age" movies? What are some other examples of this genre? 

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age tales

Themes & Topics

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