Boys on the Side

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Boys on the Side
Boys on the Side poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHerbert Ross
Written byDon Roos
Produced byHerbert Ross
Arnon Milchan
Steven Reuther
CinematographyDonald E. Thorin
Edited byMichael R. Miller
Music byDavid Newman
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • February 3, 1995 (1995-02-03)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$21 million
Box office$47.4 million[1]

Boys on the Side is a 1995 American comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross (in his final film as a director). It stars Whoopi Goldberg, Drew Barrymore, and Mary-Louise Parker as three friends on a cross-country road trip. The screenplay was written by Don Roos.


Jane (Whoopi Goldberg), a musician who recently broke-up with her girlfriend and her band, decides to move from New York City to Los Angeles. She answers a newspaper ad posted by Robin (Mary-Louise Parker), a real estate agent who is also looking to move to California. Jane initially declines to join her on the road, but agrees after her car gets towed. Jane and Robin begin their journey and make a stop in Pittsburgh to see Jane's friend, Holly (Drew Barrymore).

Jane and Robin witness a fight between Holly and her abusive boyfriend, Nick (Billy Wirth), about missing drugs. The three women fight Nick, and Holly hits Nick in the head with a bat to stop him from attacking Jane, knocking him out. The women tape Nick to a chair with tape and leave. Hours later, Nick frees himself from the chair, falls and hits his head on the bat and dies. After learning that Nick is dead and Holly is pregnant, the three women decide to continue to California together.

At a stop in Tucson, Arizona, Robin collapses at a local diner and is rushed to hospital for pneumonia, where Jane and Holly learn she has HIV. The three decide to stay in Tucson and start new lives there. Things are cheerful for a while, as the three live together and Holly falls in love with a local police officer (Matthew McConaughey) named Abe Lincoln. Jane has an unrequited crush on Robin, and Robin tenderly buys Jane a piano.

However, things fall apart. Jane and Robin's friendship crumbles when Jane, well-intended, tells a friendly bartender (James Remar) interested in Robin that she has HIV. Feeling betrayed, Robin asks Jane to move out. When Abe proposes to Holly, Holly tells him about Nick and he arrests her, despite still intending to marry her. Holly is taken back to Pittsburgh to stand trial for murder. Jane and Robin also return to Pittsburgh and make peace with each other in the courthouse. Holly takes an offer of involuntary manslaughter with one to two years in prison. Robin collapses after the trial from a lung infection, and in the hospital, Jane and Robin confess how they love one another.

Time passes, and Holly is free and living happily with Abe and her daughter, who Abe has adopted. Robin is now in a wheelchair, very far along with AIDS and not expected to live much longer. At the party, Robin weakly begins to sing the Roy Orbison song "You Got It" as a reference to her first conversation with Jane, and Jane gently finishes the song. In the final scene, Robin has died from AIDS, Holly and Abe plan to stay in Arizona and raise a family, and Jane hits the road to seek a new life in Los Angeles.



Boys on the Side received a positive response from critics. It holds a 74% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 34 reviews. The film was entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival.[2]

Film critic Roger Ebert gave the film 3-and-a-half stars, writing:

The reviews for "Boys on the Side" will mention Fried Green Tomatoes and Thelma and Louise, because it shares their assorted themes: female bonding, unexpressed love, women on the run. But this movie is not a collection of parts from other films. It's an original, and what it does best is show how strangers can become friends, and friends can become like family.

To get to know someone is very difficult, but if you really do, they should be able to tell you almost anything, and ask you almost anything, and that is where "Boys on the Side" is leading us.[3]

Box office[edit]

The film was not a major box office hit and grossed $23.4 million in the United States and Canada and $47.4 million worldwide.[4][1]


Boys on the Side
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic [5]

The film's soundtrack album consists entirely of contributions from female musicians, including Melissa Etheridge ("I Take You With Me"), Joan Armatrading ("Willow") and the Indigo Girls ("Power of Two"). Hit singles by Annie Lennox ("Why") and The Cranberries ("Dreams") also appear, as are new recordings by Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Stevie Nicks, The Pretenders, and others. Bonnie Raitt's cover of the Roy Orbison hit "You Got It" peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.[6]

Track listing[edit]

  1. Bonnie Raitt - "You Got It" (Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty) – 3:27
  2. Melissa Etheridge - "I Take You with Me" (Etheridge) – 4:50
  3. Sheryl Crow - "Keep On Growing" (Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock) – 5:27
  4. Indigo Girls - "Power of Two" (Emily Saliers) – 5:23
  5. Stevie Nicks - "Somebody Stand By Me" (Sheryl Crow, Todd Wolfe) – 5:06
  6. Pretenders - "Everyday Is Like Sunday" (Morrissey, Stephen Street) – 3:42
  7. The Cranberries - "Dreams" (Dolores O'Riordan, Noel Hogan) – 4:32
  8. Annie Lennox - "Why" (Lennox) – 4:54
  9. Sarah McLachlan - "Ol' '55" (Tom Waits) – 4:14
  10. Joan Armatrading - "Willow" (Armatrading) – 4:04
  11. Jonell Mosser - "Crossroads" (Robert Johnson) – 2:49
  12. Whoopi Goldberg - "You Got It" (Lynne, Orbison, Petty) – 3:03
  13. Bonnie Raitt - "You Got It" (Lynne, Orbison, Petty) – 3:26

There are several songs from the film that are not included on the official soundtrack album, such as Toni Childs' version of "Take Me To The River" and Boxing Gandhis' version of "Magic Carpet Ride".


  1. ^ a b Klady, Leonard (February 19, 1996). "B.O. with a vengeance: $9.1 billion worldwide". Variety. p. 1.
  2. ^ "19th Moscow International Film Festival (1995)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-03-22. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
  3. ^ Roger Ebert (February 3, 1995). "Boys On The Side". Chicago Sun-Times.
  4. ^ Natale, Richard (February 21, 1995). "The 'Brady' Hunch Pays at Box Office : Movies: The film, based on the squeaky-clean '70s TV family, is thriving in the '90s with a solid opening weekend". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-06-03.
  5. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. Boys on the Side at AllMusic. Retrieved August 13, 2015.
  6. ^ "You Got It (From". Retrieved 2022-03-07.

External links[edit]