Running on Empty
Running on Empty (1988)

In this family drama from director Sidney Lumet, Judd Hirsch and Christine Lahti play Arthur and Annie Pope, a pair of '60s radicals who have eluded the FBI for 16 years after bombing a napalm laboratory as a Vietnam War protest. This… More

Directed By:
Rated: PG-13
Running Time:
Release Date: September 7, 1988
DVD Release Date: March 30, 1999
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Critic Score: 79% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: Running on Empty largely skims past its political themes, but River Phoenix's performance helps anchor the story's generational conflict.

Joe Pollack
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"Running on Empty" is a brilliant movie, a gripping story that works on many levels.

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Ryan Murphy
Miami Herald

The dramatic possibilities are endless. For some reason, however, Lumet patches his film together with a quilt of cliches.

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Ben Yagoda
Philadelphia Daily News

"Running on Empty," helped by uniformly excellent performances, is a thoughtful, moving and, yes, dramatic look at a family's struggle to stay together.

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Jay Carr
Boston Globe

Its essential generosity is its most laudable aspect: its sympathy for the idealism of antiwar radicals seems like the real thing.

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Michael H. Price
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/

River Phoenix's solid portrayal lends excellence to the film's generally workmanlike approach to handling a gimmicky plot device.

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Michael Sragow
San Francisco Examiner

The feel-indifferent movie of 1988.

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Robin Givhan
Detroit Free Press

Hirsch as a '60s radical is hard to swallow. He looks and moves more like a professor of American political history than someone who made history.

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Kathleen Carroll
New York Daily News

The movie has definite flaws, but it is genuinely moving thanks in part to River Phoenix's sensitive performance as the teenage son.

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Hal Lipper
Tampa Bay Times

Running on Empty, for all its implausibilities and pseudo-radical bourgeois banter, is an unusually engaging movie.

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More reviews for Running on Empty

Flixster Audience Score: 68% Flixster User Reviews
Melvin White
Annie Pope: What are we doing to these kids? They've been running their whole lives like criminals, and they didnt do anything!  "They chose their… More
Lady D'arbanville
An interesting storyline, but one that perhaps lacks in excitement. Enjoyable performances by both River Phoenix and Christine Lahti. Conventional versus… More
Spencer S.
The moody, brilliant, and exceptionally mature River Phoenix shows us yet again why he was the in the forefront of our minds to become a classic actor.
Candy Rose
Movie about a family on the run from the police. It makes me cry. It also has one of my favourite songs - Fire and Rain (James Taylor)
Conner Rainwater
I really like this movie a lot. Sure, it's mostly because of River Phoenix and his extremely deep performance, but it's really a different type of… More
Dean McKenna
Extremely well-made drama film looks at a fugitive family that has been on the lam from the FBI for years.