A River Runs Through It

Movie review by Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
A River Runs Through It Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 13+

Beautifully filmed movie about family has mature themes.

PG 1992 124 minutes

Parents say

age 11+

Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 11+

Based on 6 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 6+

This movie is very dear to my own Heart! Movies cannot get better than this!

I have read the short story by Norman Maclean, and the movie did justice to Norman Maclean's writing. My husband tends to reread it occasionally, and I myself have read it over and scenes of the movie keeps coming to mind. We have videos of many of Redford ‘s movies and we have watched "A River runs through it" many times. Redford is part of the "famdamily" as he is always around. We never get tired of Redford's perception of Norman Maclean writings, and the beauty of Montana. The script reminds me very much of my own upbringing as my father had the same calling as Mr. Maclean's father. According to "A River Runs Through It," "Methodists are Baptists who can read," a line which by the way is not in the short story, but I think that is a funny line! My husband and I are well-read Baptists! I have heard a movie critic state that the pace of this movie is too slow. I disagree. As one search for inner peace, this is the type of movie that will make you contemplate the beauty of nature in three/four rhythm of the metronome. The photography is outstanding! The acting is great. I love the scene where Norman and Paul as boys talked and wondered whether one could be a fly fisher or a boxer! Then as adult Paul played by Brad Pitt is the "perfect guy" who needs help with his alcoholism but will not accept it. The same applies to Neal Burns, who uses worms as bait, he also needed help but would not accept the fact that he needed help. The scene where Paul refuses to eat oatmeal and the entire family has to wait an eternity to say grace! Finally after hours, they all kneel around the table to say: "Grace!" and they all leave. But the oatmeal stayed on the plate! That scene where the two love birds and their tattoos on their posteriors! That is funny! The sunburn! The drive back home where Jessie Burns decides to go via the train line! Beautiful dialogue when Norman proposes to Jessie because he wants her to come to Chicago with him! Redford himself does a superb job as a narrator. I could not stop myself from comparing Brad to the young Redford. The nominated Director, Producer, Actor, is a visionary who deserves to be praised for his advancement not only in the cinema in the US but around the world. I am glad to live in nineteen hundred because I have seen the beginning of the black and white television, the movies and all the technology and special effects, to be able to watch videos at home and to live in the same century as Redford because I have had the chance to see his works. Redford needs no special effects to show us the beauty of Montana in this masterpiece. The river to me means that line that separates life from death, memories and realities. Redford shows the hands of the Creator so magnificently and a river runs through it.

This title has:

Too much sex
Too much swearing
1 person found this helpful.
age 16+

Too much profanity

I thought this was going to be a family-friendly movie, since it was about a minister's family. I was wrong. The members of the family used every kind of profanity, including profanity using the names of Jesus Christ and God.

This title has:

Too much swearing

Movie Details

Our Editors Recommend

  • The Grapes of Wrath Poster Image

    The Grapes of Wrath

    Classic John Steinbeck adaptation is still powerful.

    age 12+
  • True Grit Poster Image

    True Grit

    Coen brothers tackle classic Western with wit and brutality.

    age 15+
  • A Fistful of Dollars Poster Image

    A Fistful of Dollars

    Guns galore in intro "spaghetti Western" serving.

    age 11+

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

  • Cartoon picture of a book
    Book Characters
    See all
  • Cartoon picture of a sister and brother holding hands
    Brothers and Sisters
    See all

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate