A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that a main character is dragged away and shot while his friends wait and listen. There is some prison brawling. After Alejandra sleeps with Cole, she loses her family's love. Frequent coarse language is used in conversation, but no extreme expletives. Cole lies to Rocha about riding into Mexico with Blevins and pursues a secret affair with his daughter. Cole and Alejandra kiss and swim naked (viewers only see shoulders). Later, we see them in bed together. Cole must fight in order to stay alive in prison. Both he and Rawlins get beat up, and Cole ends up stabbing a man to death. There is some gunfighting.
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What's the story?
In search of some adventure, cowboys John Grady Cole (Matt Damon) and Lacey Rawlins (Henry Thomas) head for Mexico. Along the way, they are joined by Blevins (Lucas Black), a drifter who is suspected of stealing a horse. In Mexico, the men find work with a wealthy landowner (Ruben Blades), whose daughter Alejandra (Penelope Cruz) grows attracted to Cole. But their adventures soon catch up to them, landing them in a dreadful prison.
Is it any good?
Only young Lucas Black (Sling Blade, Flash) seems to belong in this story about young boys devoted to horses, guns, and friendship. Henry Thomas and Matt Damon are solidly fine as the central buddy figures. They handle their horses well, but don't seem to understand the poetry beneath the frank, drawling dialogue, much of which screenwriter Ted Tally took directly from the Cormac McCarthy novel the film is based on. And so little attention is paid to developing the story's romance that viewers might wonder why the love story is even included. It's love at first site for Alejandra and Cole, a few brief scenes of flirtation, and then the "falling in love montage." Since so much of the subsequent events in the story follow from the tragic fact of their love, director Thorton would have been smart to spend more time making sure viewers would feel its power.
ALL THE PRETTY HORSES was shot to show as much Texan and Mexican landscape as possible. The screen fills up with one gorgeous view after another, but, as we start to feel the need to know the characters more intimately, the vistas become overwhelming. The movie should attract adults familiar with the book, and older teens familiar with the actors; both groups will most likely end up with an entertaining, but uneventful viewing experience. The stunning book is adequately adapted, but the big-screen heartthrobs don't do anything extraordinary onscreen.
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