The River Rat

Watch The River Rat

"After thirteen years in prison, Billy McCain thought he'd met up with everything, until he met up with his own daughter Jonsy."
  • PG
  • 1984
  • 1 hr 32 min
  • 6.3  (1,011)

The River Rat is a coming-of-age drama from 1984 that stars Tommy Lee Jones as a rugged, independent riverboat captain named Billy. Martha Plimpton plays his 14-year-old passenger, and Brian Dennehy is her father, a workaholic lawyer who's too busy to spend time with her. At the beginning of the film, the young girl, who is unnamed, is living with her mother and stepfather in St. Louis. She's unhappy with her new family and feels like she doesn't belong. So when she finds $60 and hops on a bus to escape, she winds up on Billy's boat heading down the Mississippi.

The unlikely duo quickly form a bond as they navigate the river and encounter various challenges along the way. Billy teaches the girl how to steer the boat, catch fish, and appreciate the beauty of the natural world around her. Meanwhile, the girl helps Billy confront his personal demons, including his estranged relationship with his own daughter.

As they journey deeper into the heart of the South, they run into trouble with some unsavory characters who are after the girl's money. They also face the dangers of the river itself, including a freak storm that threatens to capsize their boat.

The River Rat is an emotional, poignant film that explores themes of family, identity, and the power of human connection. Tommy Lee Jones delivers a standout performance as the gruff but lovable river rat, while Martha Plimpton shines as the precocious, adventurous teenager. The dynamic between the two actors is electric, and their chemistry drives the film forward.

Brian Dennehy also delivers a solid supporting performance as the girl's workaholic father, who is forced to confront his own weaknesses when his daughter goes missing. His character arc adds an extra layer of depth to the story and highlights the importance of family and the sacrifices we make for our loved ones.

The film's depiction of the Mississippi River and the surrounding landscape is breathtaking, thanks to the stunning cinematography by John Lindley. Director Tom Rickman (who also wrote the script) captures the rugged beauty of the river and the small towns that dot its shorelines, creating a rich, immersive world that feels both timeless and distinctly American.

Overall, The River Rat is a gem of a film that deserves more recognition than it received upon its release. It's a poignant, heartwarming story that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider or longed for a sense of belonging. With its strong performances, beautiful cinematography, and stirring themes, The River Rat is a must-see for anyone who loves a good coming-of-age tale.

The River Rat is a 1984 adventure movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 32 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.3.

The River Rat
Where to Watch The River Rat
The River Rat is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube VOD and Vudu. Some platforms allow you to rent The River Rat for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 32 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    6.3  (1,011)