Over the Edge (1979)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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The protagonists of Over the Edge are the teen-aged offspring of the residents of a planned suburban community. This bland little town has been designed with conformity in mind, and with no thought of making the kids' lives worth living. Even worse, there is very little opportunity for any of the teens to grow "out" of the community and live elsewhere. Consequently, the kids rebel by drinking themselves sick, dealing in drugs, and indulging in deadly violence. Inasmuch as the local cops are predisposed to beat the teens into submission, the kids retaliate by directing their frustrations at the Law; the results are tragic, to be sure, but in no way predictable. Over the Edge struck as sensitive a nerve with young 1970s moviegoers as Rebel Without a Cause did with their 1950s forebears. Matt Dillon made his screen debut in Over the Edge, distinguishing himself in an ensemble cast that also includes Vincent Spano, Andy Romano, Ellen Geer, and Harry Northrup. The screenplay was written by Charles Haas and Tim Hunter; the soundtrack songs feature the Ramones.
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Matt Dillon
as Richie
Tom Fergus
as Claude
Harry Northrup
as Doberman
Andy Romano
as Fred Willat
Ellen Geer
as Sandra Willat
Jeff Fleury
as Young Thug
Kim Kliner
as Abby
Lane Smith
as Roy Sloane
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Critic Reviews for Over the Edge

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (4)

Script, photography and performances (including Dillon before he decided to become a teenage Stallone) are all top notch, while Kaplan directs with pace, imagination, and a fine ear for dialogue and music.

Full Review… | January 25, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's to Mr. Kaplan's credit that he makes New Granada look just as boring and alienating to us as it does to the unfortunate children who live there.

Full Review… | January 15, 2005
New York Times
Top Critic

Kaplan has a fine feel for the crushing blandness of "planned communities"-the anger that possesses his underage heroes proceeds from a physically oppressive emptiness, represented by rows of hollow town houses and vast, blasted fields.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Planned suburbia, teenage wasteland

Full Review… | September 25, 2009

Jonathan Kaplan's engaging exploitation nightmarish generation gap film is effective and honest.

Full Review… | February 5, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

If you were born around the same time as Matt Dillon, this period piece will amaze you with its attention to detail

Full Review… | August 22, 2005

Audience Reviews for Over the Edge

A masterpiece of youth rebellion. It is not technically new (unlike Lucas's American Graffiti) or anything, but has a strong message, full of unforgettable scenes (especially Mat Dillon on his bicycle running through suburbia), and captures the atmosphere of late 70s very well (I guess, since I was not born). Very recommendable.

Naoya Kugimiya
Naoya Kugimiya

Too violent. Teens get in trouble and go on a destructive rampage. I don't know what message this film was going for, but it was lost on me. It was all just a muddled and empty mess. (First and only viewing - 2/23/2016)

Adam R
Adam R

Over the Edge (1979) -- [8.0] -- The teenagers of a sterile suburban experiment turn to drugs and violence as they rebel against cops, teachers, parents and city planners in "Over the Edge." This is a surprisingly dark, character-driven coming of age story featuring terrific performances from Matt Dillon (his first film) and Michael Kramer. While the kids are the protagonists, I appreciate that neither the kids nor the adults are painted as purely good or evil. The real enemy is the generation gap. Most other movies of this kind force a pat ending or reconciliation. Not so here -- the climax is (literally) explosive and the ending swims in a believable pathos. What I especially love about the movie is its barren, southwest setting. The kids live in a cookie-cutter housing development project, surrounded by half-built homes with dead grass as far as the eye can see. It adds to the film's pervasive feeling of oppressive isolation. In twilight scenes at the edge of town you can see the headlights of cars on a far-off interstate. The film succeeds so well in creating its claustrophobia, that this interstate might as well be the shores of Avalon.

Scott Schirmer
Scott Schirmer

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