Breaking Away (1979) - Rotten Tomatoes

Breaking Away (1979)



Critic Consensus: At once a touching, funny coming-of-age story and a compelling sports film, Breaking Away is a delightful treat.

Movie Info

Dennis Christopher stars as a recent high school graduate in Bloomington, Indiana, who is caught with his friends -- Dennis Quaid, Daniel Stern, Jackie Earle Haley -- coasting between high school and deciding what to do with the rest of their lives. The four friends are snobbishly looked down upon by the college students of the town as "cutters," since they were born in Bloomington and their parents worked in the local limestone quarries that built the university. Dennis Christopher's character Dave wants to be a champion bicycle racer and he idolizes the Italian racing team -- so much so that he speaks, thinks, and acts Italian, all to his father's (Paul Dooley) forlorn exasperation. Dave falls for a college girl (Robyn Douglass), but is ashamed to admit he is a cutter and poses as an Italian exchange student to impress her. Dave is particularly excited when his heroes -- the Italian racers -- come to town for a race. But they are even more snobbish than the college students and rely on dirty tricks to keep Dave from winning a race against them. After that ordeal, Dave throws away his false identity and convinces his friends to enter the university's "Little 500" bicycle race against the college students. This light-hearted and heartwarming tale was a surprising word-of-mouth success at the box-office and won several awards, including an Academy Award for "Best Screenplay."more
Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Steve Tesich
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jan 29, 2002
Twentieth Century Fox


Dennis Christopher
as Dave Stohler
Barbara Barrie
as Mrs. Stohler
Paul Dooley
as Mr. Stohler
Robyn Douglass
as Katherine
John Ashton
as Mike's Brother
Lisa Shure
as French Girl
David K. Blace
as Race Announcer
William S. Armstrong
as Race Official
Howard S. Wilcox
as Race Official
J.F. Briere
as Mr. York
Eddy Van Guyse
as Italian Rider
Carlos Saintes
as Italian Rider
Jimmy Grant
as Black Student Leader
Gail L. Horton
as Fight Spectator
Woody Hueston
as Owner of Car Wash
Jennifer F. Nolan
as Anthem Singer
Nora Ringgenberry
as Race Starter
John W. Ryan
as University President
Morris Salzman
as Blond Guy
Tom Schwoegler
as Team Captain
Mike Silveus
as Homecoming Car Kid
Alvin E. Bailey
as Stonecutter
Harold Elgar
as Stonecutter
Robert Woolery
as Stonecutter
Russell E. Freeman
as Stonecutter
Floyd E. Todd
as Stonecutter
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Breaking Away

Critic Reviews for Breaking Away

All Critics (35) | Top Critics (6)

There are a few moments when the picture's easygoing pace turns into wobbliness, but these are insignificant compared with its many moments of shrewd insight into the lives of amusingly shaded but very recognizable human beings.

Full Review… | August 3, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Though its plot wins no points for originality, Breaking Away is a thoroughly delightful light comedy.

Full Review… | March 21, 2007
Top Critic

Peter Yates, previously typed as an action director, lends the film a fine, unexpected limpidity, and the principals are mostly excellent.

Full Review… | March 21, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Displays the kind of unsentimental optimism that went out of fashion with Hawks.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Breaking Away is a wonderfully sunny, funny, goofy, intelligent movie that makes you feel about as good as any movie in a long time. It is, in fact, a treasure.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Here is a movie so fresh and funny it didn't even need a big budget or a pedigree.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Breaking Away


A feel-good, inspirational story concerning an offbeat teenager who discovers his love for biking, despite his non-supportive father (Paul Dooley) wanting him to grow up and accept adulthood as a member of the "cutter" class. While it suffers from a couple scenes that come across as over dramatic and one of the plot points is just downright awful, this movie is still hard not to love given the energetic lead performance by Dennis Christopher, as well as the fact that this is a great coming of age story. Sure, it's absolutely corny at times, but if you really don't fall in love with this movie, especially the last big race scene - something is wrong with you.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer


The essential biking film! If you're into sports movies, love riding bikes, or compete in bike racing yourself, you will love this movie. It's a great sports drama about both bikes and growing up.

Aj V

Super Reviewer

This film really impressed me the first time around. But since I haven't seen it since then (about 1984 or so), my rating is based on fond memories. If I see it again and it doesn't hold up, I'll re-evaluate.

Cindy I

Super Reviewer

Breaking Away Quotes

– Submitted by G Thomas B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by G Thomas B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by G Thomas B (2 years ago)
– Submitted by Joe A (4 years ago)

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