#811 Running on Empty (1988)

There are two aspects that make Running on Empty stand out. Its synopsis is pretty unique; a family of four running away from the law while trying to provide as normal life as possible for their two sons, which does end up as contradictory as it sound. Secondly, the movie features River Phoenix in one of his last major roles before his untimely death. This no doubt contributed to the movie’s cult status.

The status is not completely unfound; Phoenix does a pretty solid work here as the young, highly wired kid on the brink of adulthood, torn between the loyalty to his family and his willingness to finally gain his independence. The routine of having to drop everything at a moment’s notice, including house, friends, clothes – even pet dogs – and move on once again to the unknown has become the second nature to him as it’s the only kind of life he’s even known.

Running on Empty makes the viewer go through emotions ranging from compassion to the anger against the parents for putting their kids through all this. This is when the movie surprises the viewer and shows how their unique situation has made them a tight-knit unit, and the moments of happiness they share are genuinely heart warming.

I wasn’t completely sold on the movie and to me the pacing always felt a little off throughout the movie. But it does great work in establishing the emotional tie to the characters well and will give you some food for a thought even after the end credits have rolled.

In this sense Running on Empty can be considered a success.

80s-o-meter: 80%

Total: 81%