Alabama Moon

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Alabama Moon Movie Poster Image
Low-key family adventure has some dark imagery.
  • PG
  • 2011
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The main character engages in some bad (and illegal) behavior, but there are consequences for his actions, and it's all in an attempt to undo his father's wrongheaded teachings: rather than living alone, hiding in the woods, it's more fulfilling to trust and love others.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character, Moon, is resourceful and kindhearted. Despite being raised in the woods and taught to mistrust others, he's quick to sympathize and care about the people he meets. However, he is learning, and he makes several dangerous and unlawful mistakes along the way. The lawyer character (played by John Goodman) is also big-hearted and helpful toward a kid he doesn't even know.


The movie begins with its most intense sequence: an 11-year-old boy buries the body of his dead father. In flashback, we see the father breaking his leg while crossing a fast-moving river. The broken, protruding bone and some gore are visible in one shot. A supporting character also dies (offscreen). Otherwise, the movie features knives and guns (no shots fired), plus threats and shouting, and some manhandling. There's also a brief fight between the boy hero and a slightly older bully. (The hero punches the bully in his crotch.)


In one scene, an older girl kisses the 11-year-old hero offscreen, and he emerges visibly shaken.


"Damn" and "hell" are heard at least twice each (from adults). Otherwise, we hear things like "crap," "shoot," and "shut up" from the kids.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One boy apparently requires various "pills" and "medicine" each day, though it's not clear what these pills are or what they do.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this family adventure movie, based on a bestselling 2006 novel by Watt Key, features some intense scenes of violence, including the death of a parent, and a shot of a broken leg with protruding bone and some gore. A second character also dies. There are knives and guns on view (no shots fired), as well as some threats and fighting. The movie features some gateway language ("damn" and "hell") and some offscreen kissing between teens. The 11-year-old hero makes some mistakes, but eventually learns some good lessons: he learns to trust others rather than hiding away.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDebbie9 May 15, 2020

Great movie for boys

This a great movie for boy(mine 8&11), enjoyed the movie.
Adult Written byTBabiesMama November 25, 2019

Super mediocre

do yourself a favor and watch something else.
Kid, 10 years old January 18, 2015

Great Movie!!!

I really liked this movie because it had a good story line and did not favor the protagonist. In the end it did, but through out the movie Moon was not necessar... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byJanvierRain August 30, 2012

A little disappointing.

I personally thought it was boring and poorly lit, most of the time I could only see and eye and it wasn't dramatic lighting it was "I can't see... Continue reading

What's the story?

Following the loss of his mother, Moon (Jimmy Bennett), and his Pap (J.D. Evermore) live off the land deep in the woods, mistrusting others and forever hiding. When Pap dies of an infected broken leg, a mean constable (Clint Howard) nabs Moon and throws him in a penitentiary for boys. There Moon befriends an older bully, Hal (Gabriel Basso), and a younger, sickly kid, Kit (Uriah Shelton), and escapes with them, planning to head to Alaska. Unfortunately, the constable will not let the boys rest, and the idea of living alone in the woods for the rest of their lives starts to sound more daunting than exciting. Can a kindly lawyer (John Goodman) untangle this mess and help set things right?

Is it any good?

Directed by Tim McCanlies (Secondhand Lions), ALABAMA MOON is big-hearted and sweet and likable, but it also feels rushed and truncated, as well as uneven in tone. It begins with some very intense, dramatic scenes in which an 11-year-old loses his father and becomes an orphan, and then the tone settles on a rather lightweight, and even comical adventure story that stays somewhat inert; while there is much talk of going to Alaska, most of the images consist of the boys hanging around in one spot. The story doesn't really move.

Add to this the cardboard villain, the arrogant, mean constable played by cult actor Clint Howard, as well as more soapy drama toward the end, and it feels as if these scenes were crammed together, regardless of fit or mood. Yet the movie is not a complete loss. There are many warm, lovely scenes, and the appeal of the mop-top Jimmy Bennett helps a great deal, as does the presence of that kindly old grizzly bear John Goodman.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Was it necessary to show the father's gory broken leg? Was it necessary for two characters to die? How does the hero react to, or learn from, these events?

  • At what point does Moon start to realize that his father's lessons may have been a bit wrongheaded? What parts of his father's teachings come in handy?

  • How does Moon handle the bully, and what happens afterward? is the bully scary? How would this attempt work in real life?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love adventure

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate