23 September 2007 | Electrified_Voltage
Not the stunning adaptation it could have been, but not a bad one
I studied the 1967 novel, "The Outsiders", by S.E. Hinton, back in middle school. It has been years since then, but it's a very powerful story, and rather hard to forget! I was shown this movie a couple years later, in my first high school English class. I can't remember exactly what I thought at the time (I guess I thought it was so-so), but I have seen it twice since then, and can't say it reached its full potential, but overall, it's still a reasonable adaptation.
Ponyboy Curtis and Johnny Cade are two teenagers who are members of the "greaser" gang. Their rivals are the "socs". One night, Ponyboy and Johnny fall asleep in a vacant lot. When they wake up, it is still dark, and they are clueless as to what time it is. Ponyboy goes home, where his eldest brother, Darry (who has looked after his two younger brothers, Ponyboy and Sodapop, since their parents' tragic death), has been worrying about his absence. Darry ends up hitting Ponyboy, and although he then says he didn't mean it, Ponyboy runs away. Pony wakes up Johnny, who is still in the lot, and they go to the park. Unfortunately, they are attacked by a group of Socs, who nearly drown Ponyboy, but Johnny comes to the rescue by killing one of them, and causing the others to run off! To try and avoid arrest, the two leave town, after getting directions from fellow greaser Dallas "Dally" Winston, who tells them to go to an abandoned church in Windrixville. What does the future hold for these two?!
One problem with this movie is that some scenes seem a bit rushed, such as the scene where Darry hits Ponyboy and he runs away. Also, the acting isn't that great, at least not from C. Thomas Howell (who plays Ponyboy) and Ralph Macchio (who plays Johnny). Mainly for those two reasons, some parts of the film are not as gripping as they should be. Fortunately, this adaptation of "The Outsiders" also has its merits. It's a faithful adaptation (it probably helped that S.E. Hinton was a consultant), despite not including certain parts of the book, which some would be disappointed by. It also includes at least some of the tension and poignancy from the book, and gets more gripping towards the end.
Overall, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathleen Rowell did a good job bringing S.E. Hinton's highly acclaimed story to the motion picture format. Far from a perfect job, but a good one nonetheless. For those who have been blown away by the book, I wouldn't expect this movie to be all you could possibly hope for, or else you could easily end up sorely disappointed. However, if you watch the film with moderate expectations, it will probably have a better chance of pleasing you, at least to a certain extent.