Ignobly known as the film that launched the careers of C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe and Tom Cruise, The Outsiders ranks among the greatest of Francis Ford Copolla’s “He-Made-That?” movies. The Outsiders is a melodrama in the tradition of Rebel Without A Cause without all the method acting.
Ponyboy (C. Thomas Howell) and Sodapop Curtis (Rob Lowe) are two orphaned brothers, living under the guardianship of their older brother, Darry (Patrick Swayze) in early 1960’s Tulsa. Their geographical relation to the center of town and their financial status aligns them with a gang of kids called the Greasers, which includes Johnny (Ralph Macchio), Dallas (Matt Dillon), Two-bit (Emilio Estevez) and Steve (Tom Cruise.)
Their rivals from the South Side are the Socs, rich kids who drive brand-new mustangs and wear Oxfords and chinos. When Soc girl Cherry Valance (Diane Lane) takes a shine to Ponyboy, the Socs exact revenge by jumping him and Johnny in a park and nearly drowning Ponyboy. Johnny pulls a blade, knifes a kid and he and Ponyboy go into hiding. The inevitable rumble rains down a maelstrom of violence.
The performances from our friends, the Brat Packers, are mostly solid, even when veering dangerously close to that line between melodramatic and histrionic. (Tom Cruise in a very small role is hilarious--he even does a backflip for no good reason.) However, the pacing of the film is plodding at times making The Outsiders, the kind of film that resonates with teenagers, but will probably leave those over 20 wanting.