'Running,' Radicals and Critics

Benson sees as unrealistic the accepting behavior of the two uncomplaining sons portrayed by River Phoenix and Jonas Abry in "Running on Empty."

When people, children included, are confronted with hardship, they often accept their situations without complaint. Many of us who lived through the Great Depression or similar difficulties as children can remember sacrifices we made willingly because we were aware of the inflexibility of our situations.

Benson also finds major inconsistencies in the Arthur Pope character, portrayed by Judd Hirsch. She feels Pope's failure to address the issue of birth control (for his older son) and his denial of the eventual breakup of his family are contradictions to his liberal politics and to the perfect parent whom Benson assumes he is meant to be.

The intent of the film was not to portray Pope as an ideal parent but rather as an imperfect human being and a product of the radical '60s. As such his behavior is wonderfully consistent.

His casual attitude toward sex, his stubbornly narrow musical taste and his inability to see the consequences of his actions all paint a believable picture of a well-meaning but confused person.


Temple City

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World