Out of the Blue (1982)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Out of the Blue captures the turbulence of youth culture of the early '80s by presenting a three-person nuclear family that is about to implode. In a prologue, Don Barnes (Dennis Hopper), a school bus driver, is drunkenly distracted one day behind the wheel, resulting in a horrible accident. He comes home from a stint in prison to find his wife, Kathy (Sharon Farrell), hooked on drugs and his now-teenaged daughter, Cindy (Linda Manz), sullen and remote. Don's old buddies are a fun-loving bunch … More

Rating: R
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Brenda Nielson, Leonard Yakir, Gary Jules Jouvenat, Mark Peploe
In Theaters:
On DVD: Jul 27, 1999
Media Home Entertainment


as Don Barnes

as Kathy Barnes

as Charlie

as Cindy Barnes

as Anderson
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Critic Reviews for Out of the Blue

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (8)

In the late Dennis Hopper's mind a better film than Bertolucci's Luna and his own Easy Rider, the actor-director's brilliant, still shockingly subversive 1980 cherry bomb is as sad and unsettling as dysfunctional-family dramas come.

Full Review… | June 14, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

Hopper keeps things light and off-the-cuff, allowing his performers free rein...

Full Review… | June 1, 2011
Time Out
Top Critic

A genuinely alarming miasma of misplaced sexuality and rock 'n' roll fetishism.

Full Review… | May 31, 2011
Village Voice
Top Critic

Hopper's characters are in the realm of the irreparable; if the fervent acting occasionally overheats, the reckless emotions nonetheless convey the authentic struggle of personal experience.

Full Review… | May 30, 2011
New Yorker
Top Critic

Full Review… | October 31, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Out of the Blue


"Out of the Blue" is almost fantastic. A key comeback project for Dennis Hopper, it was his third directed feature after the mega-hit "Easy Rider" and the mega-flop "The Last Movie." Neil Young's "Hey Hey My My" (Out of the Blue)" is the film's theme song and apparently inspired the plot.

The unique Linda Manz -- whose sporadic acting career is often lamented -- stars as CeBe (pronounced Cee-Bee), a confused teenage rebel. Her trollop mother Kathy (Sharon Farrell) is a diner waitress and junkie, while father Don (Hopper) is a former trucker coming off five years in prison. His crime: plowing his rig into a school bus while drunk. Multiple children died in the collision, and passenger CeBe still has nightmares.

The film is mostly a character study and centers on CeBe, Kathy and their crummy town adjusting to Don's return. Kathy has been sleeping around and shooting up, while CeBe kills time idolizing Elvis Presley, listening to punk rock and bantering on the radio in Don's old truck (now rotting in the yard, overgrown with weeds). A lecherous friend has his eyes on both Kathy and CeBe, while a still-grieving father seethes about his son's freed killer. Don finds a job manning a bulldozer, but quickly succumbs to his old vices. Meanwhile, the family seeks help from a therapist portrayed by Raymond Burr, who seems to be acting in an entirely different movie.

Beyond the incongruity of Burr's scenes, the film's biggest problem is character consistency. Kathy is a heroin addict, but remains quite attractive and seems to have no problem breezing through her day. And CeBe is a mass of contradictions that aren't easy to swallow. The problems start with petite tomboy Manz, who was 18 at the time but looks four years younger. Her character's emotional age also varies wildly -- she sucks her thumb and sleeps with stuffed animals, but also smokes and teases men like a jaded twentysomething. So, just how old is this girl? She's also a punk-rock fan with a Sid Vicious fascination (her happiest moment is an onstage appearance with real-life band the Pointed Sticks), yet she plasters her walls with sappy Elvis pin-ups and can't get enough of "Teddy Bear" (possibly his wimpiest hit). This is hard to fathom. Someone with her demonstrated instability should have some quirks, but such extreme contrasts don't ring true.

However, the unforgettable ending sweeps these misgivings aside. Stick around.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

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