A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Across the Great Divide features two orphans and their dog trying to make it to Oregon and a gambler who befriends them. There's mild, recurring violence with shoot-outs, animal attacks, and various weather- and food-scarcity hardships faced on the trip, but it's all tame compared to modern-day violence. Overall it's a family-friendly tale of trust, resourcefulness, and survival.
What's the story?
Holly and Jason Smith are orphans who have only their dog and their wits to get them to Oregon, where they believe an inheritance awaits them. When they meet Coop (Robert Logan), an alcoholic gambler who seems set on tricking them out of what little food they have, they rightly refuse to trust him. But as time wears on and the trail gets tough, they realize they'll survive the elements better if they stick together, if they can just learn to trust him.
Is it any good?
ACROSS THE GREAT DIVIDE is a quaint, family-friendly film about survival and trust. It's set against a stunning backdrop in the Utah mountains, and watching these hardscrabble kids learn to trust an even more hardscrabble gambler makes for an interesting meditation. There's a lot of action and suspense here without today's typical gratuitous violence and painstakingly lifelike bloodshed. Instead, it's a story about battling the elements, living off the land, and the old truism that man's biggest enemy is perhaps himself. The score feels very dated and a bit cheesy with sweeping ballads and strings, but it's essentially the Oregon Trail come to life and entertaining for kids and families who like Western history and tales of resourcefulness and moxie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the portrayal of Native Americans here. How is it different from how we portray Native Americans today?
How does the violence in this film compare to typical movies you see today?
Have you ever played the game Oregon Trail? What do you think the biggest challenge would be in surviving a cross-country trek?
Themes & Topics
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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.