'80s Movie Month: "The Outsiders" Review

Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

'80s Movie Month: "The Outsiders" Review

Rating: PG13 (violence, teen drinking and smoking, and some sexual references)
Length: 91 minutes
Release date: March 25, 1983
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Genre: Drama

"The Outsiders" is the film adaptation of the popular book of the same title by S. E. Hinton, published in 1967. The movie is set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1965 and centers on a group of teenagers. The main character is Ponyboy, played by C. Thomas Howell ("The Amazing Spiderman"); Ponyboy has two older brothers: Sodapop, played by Rob Lowe ("St. Elmo's Fire"), and Darrel, played by Patrick Swayze ("Dirty Dancing"). Ponyboy and his brothers are part of a gang called the Greasers, which is made up of a group of low-income teenagers. The other members of the gang include Johnny, played by Ralph Macchio ("The Karate Kid"), Dallas, played by Matt Dillon ("Crash"), Two-Bit Matthews, played by Emilio Estevez ("Mission: Impossible"), and Steve, played by Tom Cruise ("Jerry Maguire").

The Greasers have a rivalry with another gang called the Socs. This is a gang of wealthy teenagers who live on the west side of town, and they love to get drunk, smoke, and pick fights with other kids, especially the Greasers. Four members of this gang include Cherry, played by Diane Lane ("Man of Steel"), Marcia, played by Michelle Meyrink ("One Magic Christmas"), Bob, played by Leif Garrett ("Popstar"), and Randy, played by Darron Dalton ("The Day the Earth Stopped"). Most kids are intimidated by the Socs because they are known to wreck houses, throw beer bottles, hold-up gas stations, and initiate gang fights. They drive fancy cars, wear fashionable leather jackets, and cause chaos throughout the community.

In the early part of the film, Ponyboy and Johnny are attacked by four members of the Socs. During the attack, Johnny pulls out a switchblade and stabs Bob, who ends up dying because of his injuries. Because of this incident, Ponyboy and Johnny leave town and end up hiding in an abandoned church. Although the boys are hiding away, they are facing serious charges. Dallas, who knows where the boys are, keeps them abreast of the situation as it develops in town.

One day, Dallas and a friend visit Ponyboy and Johnny. After talking for a while, the teens decide to go out for food. When they return, the church is on fire. The boys take action because there are children trapped inside. They successfully rescue the children, but Johnny has to go to the hospital because of severe burns and a broken back. Johnny is hailed as a hero but ultimately succumbs to his injuries. The Greasers and Socs also have an all-out battle. Another member of the Greasers also dies in the film, which details the realities of gang life during the late fifties and early sixties.

The film adaptation of "The Outsiders" was just as popular as the book, primarily because the main characters were part of the Brat Pack, a group of well-known actors who many considered to be extremely talented "heart-throbs." The film takes place over the course of a few months, and the story is designed to appeal to a broad audience. Film lovers of every age and socioeconomic class can relate to the story. There was already a lot of buzz around the movie due to the popularity of the book, and the film lived up to the buzz. Coppola was ultimately praised for putting together a star-studded cast that gave audiences a realistic depiction of what it was like for rival gangs during this time.

The film was nominated for multiple awards, including four Young Artist Awards and the award for Best Family Feature Motion Picture. Diane Lane, who played Cherry, was nominated for several supporting actress awards. Many of the film's stars, who were just starting to make names for themselves in the film industry at the time, went on to become some of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Tom Cruise, Patrick Swayze, and Matt Dillon have become household names.

"The Outsiders" was re-released in 2005. The updated film includes 22 additional minutes of footage. It has a new soundtrack and contains multiple scenes that were deleted from the original 1983 film. Many critics responded favorably to the re-release because the added scenes make the movie more loyal to the book. Coppola also decided to remove a few scenes from the re-released version to improve the film's pace. Multiple versions of the film, however, are available, some of which contain these deleted scenes. The re-release also includes commentary from multiple actors in the film, including Matt Dillon and Rob Lowe. The new film was also re-rated. It was given a PG-13 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America due to multiple sexual references, teen drinking, and violence.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars