In this comedy (which claims a strong pedigree -- it was written by John Sayles and directed by Bill Forsyth), Burt Reynolds plays Ernie, an aging career burglar who knows just about everything there is to know about breaking and entering. One night, Ernie has stealthily slipped into a home only to discover someone else is already there -- Mike (Casey Siemaszko), a guy in his early 20's who likes to sneak into other people's houses so he can raid their refrigerators and watch their televisions. Ernie is taken aback by Mike's recklessness, but is impressed by his skills; he's convinced the kids has the makings of a first-class thief, and offers to make him his protege. Mike agrees, and soon the two are working together, with Ernie trying to explain the importance of playing it as safe as possible while Casey follows every youthful impulse to make some fast money and throw it away just as quickly. Breaking In marked a change-of-pace role for Burt Reynolds, in which he acknowledged his age and played a character role instead of an action hero; the results garnered him some of the best notices of his career.
by Mark Deming synopsis