The bitter rivalry between two gangs, the Greasers and the Socs,
widens after a young Greaser kills a drunk, violent Soc in self-defense.
The Outsiders (1983)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Written by Kathleen Rowell
Starring C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio,
Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Tom Cruise,
Diane Lane, Glenn Withrow
Based on the novel by S.E. Hinton
S.E. Hinton's classic adolescent novel about class warfare and the loss of innocence isn't really the kind of book that translates well to film. The Outsiders sports a seriously loaded cast of future A-listers, but their combined talents simply can't deliver the borderline goofy dialogue that makes up Hinton's 1950's-set teen drama without coming off as insincere. At the heart of the problem is the utter lack of story. The Outsiders is a narrative that details the rivalry between the poor and the rich, but there isn't much of a plot. With that said, translating it to film just doesn't work.
Hinton created characters and conflict, but there's very little around that to make me care about them. The film has the same problem. The various Greasers are so similar, that they start to blend together. Apart from Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) and Johnny (Ralph Macchio), everybody else isn't memorable or interesting, apart from those moments where I get to say, "Hey look, it's Patrick Swayze!" or "Hey look, it's Tom Cruise!" Even though these actors would go on to be iconic stars, they don't really bring anything to the table in this film, which annoyed me.
The Outsiders works as a way to demonstrate the differences between 50's gangs, but doesn't hold much entertainment value. It's a decent adaptation of an okay book at best, but despite its fantastic cast, it lacks a compelling story. Unless you're a teenager trying to figure out who you really are, this film won't do much for you in the long run.