Alabama Moon

  • Review Date: May 13, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Low-key family adventure has some dark imagery.
  • Review Date: May 13, 2011
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 99 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence

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.)

Sex

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

Language

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

Consumerism
Not applicable
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.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:March 18, 2011
DVD release date:May 17, 2011
Cast:Clint Howard, Jimmy Bennett, John Goodman
Director:Tim McCanlies
Studio:Faulkner-McLean Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters
Run time:99 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:thematic elements, language and a brief injury

This review of Alabama Moon was written by

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

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.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

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

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySomeoneYouDon'tKnow June 2, 2012
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Great novel adaptation will please fans of the book

I read the Alabama Moon book for my sixth grade summer reading list, and I LOVED it. The second I finished it, I new there needed to be a movie. I had already planned it all out in my head, and, for a reason that I now can't remember, I wanted James Franco to play Moon's father. When I heard that there was a movie, I was ecstatic. I begged and begged and begged for it, until I finally got it on DVD for my 13th birthday. We all watched it together on the first night, and it was great. James Franco wasn't in it, but I was very pleased by the casting regardless, and I especially loved John Goodman's role. It stayed very true to the nature of the book, with a good message and some great role models, but, like in the book, there is some language and a brief violent image when they show the injury on the leg of Moon's dad. There is also a moment where Moon is kissed offscreen by a girl (an event that did not occur in the book), which left Moon all shaken up. I'll admit that the the acting from the kids isn't the best, although the adult characters did very well, especially from John Goodman and Clint Howard. This might not quite compare to the book, but it is nonetheless a sweet family adventure for all ages.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Adult Written bymikefromspace March 1, 2012
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

people need people

Great movie for anyone. Everyone should see this great movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Kid, 10 years old January 18, 2015
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

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 necessarily the favored one. This movie is great for a family that is investigating for good movies. As the story goes on you are in Moon's shoes, running and hiding in the forest with Kit & Hal.

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