Box art for Rumble Fish

Rumble Fish


Francis Ford Coppola directs this unforgettable story of two brothers (Matt Dillon and Mickey Rourke) struggling to break out of the urban trap of gang warfare and violence.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

PAUSE for kids age 16
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
4 out of 5
3 out of 5
Positive messages
0 out of 5
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5

Teen-gang saga is more intense, violent than the book.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that the raw moments include a sex-party scene exhibiting female and male nudity (erotic-daydream fantasies about a pretty girl wearing very little in a classroom are slightly less explicit). There's also gang-fighting (arranged like a duel, with all the kids turning out to watch at the appointed time), a mugging and beating with a tire iron, and reckless driving on a motorcycle (no helmets), plus one fatal shooting. There is much drinking/drunkenness and cigarette smoking as well, and heroin use and addiction is discussed (and disparaged). Swearing at R-level emphasizes the f-word, and the lead character speaks glowingly of the street-gang lifestyle, though other characters work to change his mind.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the messages in the film and the choices the characters make. Why did Motorcycle Boy come back from California to his dangerous, no-future hometown situation?
  • Do you know any Motorcycle Boy-types? Can you relate to the people and situations here or not? What other movies and books speak to this type of character?
  • Many teens have read the book. Ask what they think of director Coppola's offbeat approach to the story, and if they would like to see more serious-minded films like this that take wild chances with B&W photography and hallucinatory imagery.

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 10
    see all Rumble Fish reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: Beautiful.

- Cole Smithey,, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rotten: Visually stunning but dramatically inert coming-of-age tale

- Daniel Eagan, Film Journal International, Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rotten: The action is clotted and murky, and Coppola obviously hasn't bothered to clarify it for the members of his cast, who wander through the film with expressions of winsome, honest befuddlement.

- Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader, Saturday, January 1, 2000

Audience Reviews

4 stars

With some of the most impressive visuals that I have ever witnessed in film and a European inspired design sense, Rumble Fish is a unique, engrossing, and highly memorable film. It could easily be argued that its style tends to detract from the characters and any relevant themes in the film, but it instead amplifies the need for insight and concentration as we wade through Coppola's beautiful noirish visuals. There isn't a single frame from the picture that couldn't be considered instantly iconic imagery.

- shortcartoonist, Saturday, January 17, 2009

4 stars

Francis Ford Coppola's follow up to The Outsiders was a critical and commercial flop when originally released in 1983. Panned for being over-stylized and lacking a clear narrative, audiences shunned the film. Yet it is those artistic touches that set the film apart. Black and white cinematography, which recalls French New Wave cinema and German Expressionism, never looked so beautiful. In fact, this surreal film more resembles life in the mid-50s, despite being set in the modern day. Stellar cast adds to this visually arresting teen drama about streets gangs and sibling relationships.

- hobster1, Wednesday, November 26, 2008

3 stars

Mickey Rourke's laid-back charismatic attitude and Stephen H. Burum's hypnotic photography are the key elements of this striking surreal moral tale.

- pier007, Thursday, February 14, 2008