The story of the life and death of a young transman
named Brandon Teena. His legal name was Teena Brandon, but that was unknown to the gang of misogynist homophobic rednecks he joined.
They accepted him as one of the guys, and he even started dating the sister of one of these new friends. Of course, when they "discovered" that he was assigned female, they considered him to be a lesbian. Homophobic hate-crimes ensued.
Not to be confused with Men Don't Cry
or the boy band from a SpongeBob SquarePants
- Attractive Bent-Gender: Rare example of a female to male, but in Boys Don't Cry about the real life murder of Brandon Teena, who was a trans man, Hillary Swank not only looked convincingly male (she lived as a man for about a month in preparation for the role; her neighbors believed the young man coming and going was her brother), but was not bad-looking.
- Blatant Lies: Brandon makes up a ton of lies besides the obvious, like having a kid of his own, a model for a sister and has travelled the world. Also, Hilary Swank claimed to be from Nebraska prior to landing the role. When called out for it, she said she lied because that's what Brandon would do.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Blonde Candace, brunette Kate and reddish-blonde Lana.
- Brainless Beauty: Brandon. "I'm going to Memphis, Graceland and Tennessee."
- Broken Aesop: The movie's tagline talks about "having the courage to be yourself" when the film's protagonist is a compulsive liar (claiming to have a kid, traveling the world, etc.), and when he does "be himself", he ends up getting raped and murdered.
- California Doubling: Despite taking place in Nebraska, the "night in the big city" montage was filmed in, and features the prominent buildings of, downtown Dallas. Apparently Texas cities are metropolitan enough to fill in for other states, but not for its own.
- Disappeared Dad: Lana's father is nowhere to be found and neither is the father of Candace's baby. Brandon's family is absent—he lies about it, then later says his father died when Brandon was very young.
- Foregone Conclusion: The movie is based on the last days of a famous murder victim.
- Gag Penis: The fake "gear" that Brandon is packing is impossible.
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Lana and her mother.
- The Hero Dies: Brandon himself at the end. A Foregone Conclusion since this is based on a famous murder case.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Brandon's friends take this path when they find out his biological sex.
- Meaningful Echo: When Brandon walks Lana home and she's embarrassed about her house, he says "You're so pretty." Near the end of the film when Brandon is hiding out in the barn after being raped, Lana says "You're so pretty," and kisses him.
- Missing Mom: The mother of John's daughter April is out of the picture.
- Oscar Bait: Swank won the Academy Award for Best Actress. In addition, Chloe Sevigny was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and the film won several other awards.
- Shower of Angst: Brandon takes a shower after he has been raped by men who discovered his birth sex, with the camera lingering on shots of his female body.
- Triumphant Reprise: The girls sing the song "The Bluest Eyes In Texas" by Restless Heart in the bar where Brandon first meets Lana. At the end of the film when Lana is finally leaving Falls City the cover by Nina Persson plays over it.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Seems like a number of facts about the events portrayed in the movie were omitted and others outright fabricated. The real Lana Tisdel disliked how she was portrayed and described the movie as "the second murder of Brandon Teena."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Kate disappears after Brandon is exposed in front of everyone and we never hear what happened to her. Also, Candace's baby is last seen walking back into the bedroom after she's been shot, and it's not said what happened to him (In real life Mom took the baby). Ditto for John's daughter April. John states early in the movie that April's mother gave him to her for "a few days," so it's a fair assumption the child went back to her mum.