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The Outsiders

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Outsiders

Starring: Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Rated: PG
RunTime: 91 Minutes
Release Date: May 1983
Genres: Action, Drama

*Also starring: C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Diane Lane, Tom Cruise, Leif Garrett, Tom Waits

Review by Steve Rhodes
2 stars out of 4

Since my son's class recently finished reporting on the S.E. Hinton novel, "The Outsiders," we decided to view the 1983 movie of the same name. My son swears by the book, and I was ready to swear at the movie. Although not a really bad film, it completely wastes an excellent cast, which includes C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, Tom Cruise and Diane Lane. And, for some, the biggest surprise of all is the director of this tale that plays like a Disney movie that might be titled SPIN AND MARTY GET SERIOUS. It is none other than Francis Ford Coppola who made the film after APOCALYPSE NOW and the first two GODFATHERs.

The movie's stilted dialog is by first-time screenwriter Kathleen Rowell, who went on to write screenplays for television movies. With few natural scenes in the film, the acting is never convincing. The movie plays like one long introductory class in method acting. Compare, for example, the pretentious performances in THE OUTSIDERS with the more recent BULLY by Larry Clark, which was frighteningly realistic with the actors delivering translucent and riveting performances.

The story, set in the late 1950s, is a classic one of rich vs. poor as the rich kids called "socs" mistreat the poor ones known as "greasers." Rather than ending in the big game, it culminates in the big rumble as the greasers try to get their revenge.

The best part of the movie is the sometimes deliciously dreamy and other times decidedly dramatic score by Carmine Coppola. But, like the rest of the movie, it has its problems, namely that it never fits. In Carmine Coppola's defense, one suspects that if the acting were more credible, the music might not have felt so out of place.

Read the book. Skip the movie.

THE OUTSIDERS runs 1:31. It is rated PG for violence. The film was released before the PG-13 rating was introduced. If it were released today, it would be PG-13. The film would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, gave it ***, saying it was pretty good. He loved the book and enjoyed the movie.

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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