October 18th, 1996

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Still of Brad Pitt, Minnie Driver, Jason Patric, Billy Crudup and Ron Eldard in SleepersStill of Brad Renfro, Jonathan Tucker, Joseph Perrino and Geoffrey Wigdor in SleepersStill of Robert De Niro in SleepersStill of Dustin Hoffman, Billy Crudup and Ron Eldard in Sleepers

After a prank goes disastrously wrong, a group of boys are sent to a detention center where they are brutalized; over 10 years later, they get their chance for revenge.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 7.4/10 (76,276 voted)

Critic's Score: 49/100

Director: Barry Levinson

Stars: Robert De Niro, Kevin Bacon, Brad Pitt

Four boys growing up in Hell's Kitchen play a prank that leads to an old man getting hurt. Sentenced to no less than one year in the Wilkenson Center in upstate New York, the four friends are changed by the beating, humiliation and sexual abuse by the guards sworn to protect them. Thirteen years later and a chance meeting lead to a chance for revenge against the Wilkenson Center and the guards.

Writers: Lorenzo Carcaterra, Barry Levinson

Kevin Bacon - Sean Nokes
Billy Crudup - Tommy Marcano
Robert De Niro - Father Bobby
Ron Eldard - John Reilly
Minnie Driver - Carol Martinez
Vittorio Gassman - King Benny
Dustin Hoffman - Danny Snyder
Terry Kinney - Ralph Ferguson
Bruno Kirby - Shakes' Father
Frank Medrano - Fat Mancho
Jason Patric - Lorenzo 'Shakes' Carcaterra
Joseph Perrino - Young Lorenzo 'Shakes' Carcaterra (as Joe Perrino)
Brad Pitt - Michael Sullivan
Brad Renfro - Young Michael Sullivan
Geoffrey Wigdor - Young John Reilly

Taglines: Four friends have made a mistake that will change their lives forever.


Official Website: |

Release Date: 18 October 1996

Filming Locations: Cafe Elysian - 1001 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Box Office Details

Budget: $44,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $12,305,745 (USA) (20 October 1996) (1915 Screens)

Gross: $165,615,285 (Worldwide)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

The code name "Edmund" that is used in the paper to notify Micheal that he needed to contact Shakes is the name of the main character, Edmund Dantes, from "The Count of Monte Cristo".

Anachronisms: In the scenes where the adult Shakes and Mike meet in Queens, a train of "Redbird" subway cars is shown passing above them on the "7" line. In 1981, these cars were not yet painted red; they were still painted in their original "World's Fair" colors (turquoise and white) or else were painted all-white.

[first lines]
Lorenzo: This is a true story about friendship that runs deeper than blood. This is my story and that of the only three friends in my life that truely mattered. Two of them were killers who never made it past the age of 30. The other's a non-practicing attorney living with the pain of his past - too afraid to let it go, never confronting its horror. I'm the only one who can speak for them, and the children we were.

User Review

Really good and full of powerful performances - underrated if a bit flawed overall


This movie made a fuss when it came out because there were claims that its author had lied about it being "based on a true story." As a result it become a sort of infamous title and people cared less about the film's content and more about its "accuracies."

Well, frankly I don't really care about whether or not the story is true because I know things similar to this _do_ happen - children are abused and using this as a backbone for a revenge film may seem a bit inappropriate but it is handled with care by director Barry Levinson and the highly talented ensemble cast treat it with caution.

Robert De Niro gives a convincing performance as the Catholic priest who is a father-figure to a bunch of disillusioned Brooklyn youth. After they accidentally injure a man during a rebellious incident they are sent away to a juvenile facility where they are sexually and physically abused by the evil warden (Kevin Bacon). Years later two of the boys (now grown men) take revenge on Bacon and kill him in a public area. They are sent to trial but not all is what it seems - representing the case is someone involved with the past and there are some other interesting twists along the way.

The abuse isn't really the subject of this movie - instead the "what if a trial could be rigged?" question is more prescient. (Think "Runaway Jury" meets "Deliverance.") The cast is fantastic - De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, Minnie Driver, Bacon, et al. It's a movie buff's dream come true! If only Al Pacino had popped up....

De Niro has been given a bad reputation lately as a "sell-out" - but he provides a really deep and multi-layered performance here. It's too bad people forget about this movie along with some others he made around the turn of the decade because a lot of them were very good. This is one of them.

Levinson ("Rain Man," "Diner") is sometimes a bit too heavy on schmaltz in his films and that's the reason many people (myself NOT included) disliked "Rain Man." However here - for the most part - he abandons this and presents the material with a good touch. It's atmospheric and dark - it feels a bit like De Niro's "A Bronx Tale" and "Diner" colliding together.

Overall this is a really good film that is not without its flaws but is still engaging and surprising and underrated - a must-see for any self-respecting film buff.


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