Running on Empty

Watch Running on Empty

"They chose their lives. Now their son must choose his."
  • PG-13
  • 1988
  • 1 hr 51 min
  • 7.6  (17,906)
  • 67

Running on Empty is a 1988 drama film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring River Phoenix, Christine Lahti, and Judd Hirsch. The film tells the story of a family on the run, constantly moving to avoid the consequences of their past actions. Running on Empty is a poignant exploration of family love, loyalty, and sacrifice. The film follows the lives of the Pope family, who have been on the run for over a decade. Arthur and Annie Pope (played by Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti) are former radicals who were involved in a radical bombing in the 1970s. The Popes are forced to change their identities and move constantly to avoid being caught by the FBI. However, their past catches up with them when their eldest son Danny (played by River Phoenix), a gifted musician, is offered a place at the Juilliard School in New York City.

Danny's talent and passion for music are immediately apparent, and his audition at Juilliard is successful. However, his parents know that they cannot afford to let Danny attend the school, as this would mean revealing their true identities and risk being caught by the authorities. Despite their reservations, Danny's parents encourage him to pursue his dream.

The film explores the profound sacrifices that the family makes to keep their secret safe, and the impact that this has on their relationships with each other. Danny is torn between his love for his family and his desire to pursue his music career. He struggles with the guilt of potentially revealing his family's identity and is forced to make some difficult decisions about his future.

Running on Empty is a beautifully crafted film that is both touching and thought-provoking. The performances from the cast are exceptional, with River Phoenix delivering a standout performance as Danny. Phoenix's portrayal of a conflicted teenager torn between his family and his dreams is both heartbreaking and compelling.

Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti are also excellent as Danny's parents, showcasing the depth of their emotions as they navigate the challenges of raising their son while keeping their secret intact. The film's supporting cast is also noteworthy, with L.M. Kit Carson delivering a memorable performance as Danny's music teacher, Mr. Phillips.

The film's soundtrack is similarly impressive, featuring original songs from artists such as Tom Waits, James Taylor, and Bruce Springsteen. The music adds to the film's emotional impact, further highlighting the themes of love, sacrifice, and family loyalty.

Overall, Running on Empty is a film that stays with you long after the final credits. It explores complex themes with sensitivity and depth and features outstanding performances from its cast. It is a poignant reminder of the power of family love, and the sacrifices that we make for those we care about. If you haven't seen it, Running on Empty is a film that is well worth your time.

Running on Empty is a 1988 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 51 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 67.

Running on Empty
Where to Watch Running on Empty
Running on Empty is available to watch free on Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent Running on Empty for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 51 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (17,906)
  • Metascore