Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: TBD

My Own Private Idaho Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Dave Kehr

    Beautifully wrought, darkly funny and finally devastating, My Own Private Idaho almost single-handedly revives the notion of personal filmmaking in the United States. [18 Oct 1991]

  • 50

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Julie Salamon

    This is all very strange and a little tedious. Yet there is something arresting and oddly poignant in Mr. Van Sant's playful vision of the road to nowhere. [3 Oct 1991, p.A14(E)]

  • 63

    out of 100

    USA Today Mike Clark

    Truth is, Idaho is nothing but set pieces; tossed into a mix whose meaning is almost certainly private. [27 Sept 1991]

  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly

    But Van Sant, whose vision is otherwise sharp, pushes the connection to Shakespeare's Henry IV too far, having Reeves at one point declaim in rhyming couplets, which severely tests even the most forgiving viewer.

  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    There is no mechanical plot that has to grind to a Hollywood conclusion, and no contrived test for the heroes to pass; this is a movie about two particular young men, and how they pass their lives.

    Read Full Review

  • See all My Own Private Idaho reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 16+

Delicate portrayal of street hustlers isn't meant for kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this arty and heartfelt film about street hustlers contains frequent references to and sometimes scenes of gay male prostitution, though genitals are never on screen (aside from a few brief shots of naked female breasts). The hustlers in the film use drugs (cocaine) and alcohol frequently, and they also steal and lie to each other. There is frequent cursing throughout ("f--k").

  • Families can talk about what drives the different characters to lead lives of hustling. How are Mike and Scott's reasons similar and different? What do you think about their definitions of sexuality -- are the hustlers gay, straight, or something else?
  • Talk about how the film portrays life on the street. Are there parts of the lifestyle that seem fun or romantic? How close to reality does the film portray life on the streets? What isn't shown?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Rather than a film with a strong message, this is more a meditation on loneliness and abandonment. Each character is seeking love, attachment, and wholeness, which is an elusive goal for everyone.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: The main characters are lost souls who have experienced deep pain in their pasts. They are certainly not role models, but serve somewhat as warnings for what might be on the other side of a "normal" life. There are elements of the street-kid life that seem romantic in this film, which parents may want to discuss with teens.

What to watch for
  • violence false2

    Violence: Mike's father hits him several times in a drunken rage. Some mild pushing, fighting. The prostitution scenes verge on dangerous territory, though none are violent.

  • sex false4

    Sex: Many scenes of prostitution where a sex act between two men is occurring just barely off screen -- sometimes the camera focuses on a face only. A few sex scenes -- a threesome between men and a heterosexual couple -- feature frozen scenes of naked bodies engaged in sex acts (though only female breasts and backsides are shown).

  • language false3

    Language: Frequent cursing throughout, including "f--k."

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false4

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Hustlers, including the main characters, smoke, drink, and use drugs frequently.