Straw Dogs

  • Review Date: September 16, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2011

Common Sense Media says

Too much violence, not enough character in pointless remake.
  • Review Date: September 16, 2011
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2011





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The general message here is that the weak, passive main character must eventually "man up" and defend himself and his wife. This requires him to engage in all kinds of gruesome violence. His success is therefore an ironic and bitter achievement.

Positive role models

No role models here: The main character is passive and ineffectual and resorts to brutal violence to "regain his manhood"; his wife is shallow, petty, and manipulative; and the villains are murderers and rapists.


Extreme violence in the final third of the movie, with many characters dying in gruesome ways: nail gun to the hands, shotgun blast to the chest, bear trap to the neck. A woman is raped by two men. A man accidentally strangles and kills a teen girl. A man is hit by a car and breaks his arm; blood and bone are shown. Deer are shot and killed, and a dead cat is seen hung by its neck in a closet.


A married couple is shown kissing and flirting with each other, preparing to have sex (though it's not shown). A woman deliberately undresses by a window, though nothing is shown other than her belly button. Men ogle a woman's behind in tight running shorts. A woman is shown without a bra, her nipples visible through her top. A man slaps a waitress on the behind.


Very strong language throughout includes multiple uses of "f--k," "s--t," "p---y," "a--hole," "d--k," "goddamn," "ass," "damn," "hell," "for Christ's sake," and more.


The main character uses a Sony VAIO computer that's visible in several shots. Characters drink and mention Budweiser beer throughout.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters are constantly swilling beer (and sometimes whisky). They occasionally appear staggering drunk. One supporting character is shown to be upset when he can't continue drinking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this grim remake of the powerful 1971 Sam Peckinpah movie (which starred Dustin Hoffman) has very strong violence, including many gruesome murders, a brutal rape scene, and dead animals. While the original used its edgy content to explore character, the remake is much less subtle, which makes the violence seem intended to be thrilling rather than thought provoking. There aren't any positive messages or role models here; the main character is a passive, ineffectual man whose only way to regain his "manhood" is to defend himself and his wife through violence. There's also frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "p---y," etc.), sexual situations (though no nudity), and lots of drinking (always Budweiser), including one character who's shown to have a drinking problem.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Actress Amy (Kate Bosworth) returns to her small Mississippi hometown with her Hollywood screenwriter husband, David Sumner (James Marsden), so he can work on his new script. They hire Amy's former boyfriend, Charlie (True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard), and his buddies to repair the barn roof ... and so begins a series of subtle psychological games designed to make David look foolish and weak. Eventually, a deadly incident leads up to a violent stand-off, in which David must take up arms to defend his wife and his home.

Is it any good?


Film critic-turned-director Rod Lurie unwisely tries to redo Sam Peckinpah with this incendiary tale. In Peckinpah's hands, the story (which was originally based on a 1969 novel by Gordon M. Williams) was an intensely psychological thriller about perceived masculinity. The remake avoids anything psychological -- or even emotional -- and turns it into a rather empty and soulless revenge thriller. This time the characters don't make much sense, and when they change or snap, it seems too sudden, rather than gradual.

Now we merely have a thoughtless, empty exploration of "what makes a man," all the way down to a bizarre and ill-advised montage mashup of a deer hunt and a rape. But the real point seems to be to see how many gruesome and bloody murders can be crammed into one film. It's vile and pointless. The only saving grace is a terrifying performance by James Woods as a backwoods, alcoholic hillbilly who's pathologically obsessed with defending his daughter's honor.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. What is its purpose? Do you think it's necessary to the story? How does it compare to what you see in horror movies?

  • How does the movie address the idea of "manhood"? Is it a relevant concept? Does a guy have to act strong or do violent things to be considered a "man"?

  • Are there any good people in this movie?


Movie details

Theatrical release date:September 16, 2011
DVD release date:December 20, 2011
Cast:Alexander Skarsgard, James Marsden, Kate Bosworth
Director:Rod Lurie
Studio:Screen Gems
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:strong brutal violence including a sexual attack, menace, some sexual content, and pervasive language

This review of Straw Dogs was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 10 years old Written bystromling September 19, 2011


the wife is good role model as she manipulates people (some may think this is a bad role model but i do not) i dissagree with the idea that a man must be strong and beefy to be attractive (hard as it may seem i always wanted to be the tall and skinny tipe with a smooth stubbless and thin face and have round glasses) but yes its ok but not for little kids

What other families should know
Great role models
Adult Written bymoviechick123 December 26, 2011

good movie...for adults.

This movie is definitely not for kids. Manhood is a big factor in this movie. Something like 'What makes someone a man' could be discussed. One of the main characters, a women is noticeably not wearing a bra in all of the scenes. She is also raped twice in the same scene by 2 different male characters. One of the male characters also attempts to rape her again in a later scene. Kissing and flirting between a man and a wife. There is an adult character who is mentally challenged who is physically/mentally abused by almost all other characters. He is also in a questionable relationship with a character who is 15 years old, in which she is shown attempting to give him oral sex. Very graphic violence. A police officer is shown being shot with a shotgun. A cat is killed, though the killing is not shown, there is a shot with the cat dead, hanging from a rack in a closet. Tons of swearing, and drinking beer. A great movie for adults who like this genre, but would not at all suggest this movie for families with kids under 17.

What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bycerealkiller189 December 12, 2011

Not bad.

Grrrrr Csm I saw this with my dad and a few friends it ain't even violent at all just a bit of shooting its ok for 5+ bcuz one of the kids brought his 5 yr old brother not bad at all


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Top Kids' Movies: An Essential Guide for Families