Manifest Destiny: The Lewis & Clark Musical Adventure

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Manifest Destiny:  The Lewis & Clark Musical Adventure Movie Poster Image
Silly spoof of famous expedition falls flat.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 92 minutes

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age 5+
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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

As long as Lewis and Clark stick together and stay true to their friendship, it doesn't matter if they're remembered by history or not. If you work hard to get through the tough times, you'll experience some of life's greatest joys.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lewis wants to be guardians and keepers of the land, studying and documenting the wildlife they encounter. Clark mostly sees dinner and doesn't hesitate to shoot if it means providing food. Both are determined to see their mission through for America, and not for fame or glory. Clark seems bent on avenging a lost love, but after truly connecting with others can't bring himself to go through with it. Sacagawea is a patient teacher and helpful guide. Jefferson is portrayed as bitter, vain, and envious of Lewis and Clark's fame. He drinks heavily and tries to undermine their mission so that he'll get all the credit.

Violence

Clark is almost always seen with a gun. He shoots a bird and Lewis holds it in his hands. Adults and older kids will easily see it's fake; younger kids may not. Clark also shoots his horse (a puppet), the shot is heard but nothing's shown. Jefferson threatens Lewis and Clark with a pistol. A body that older kids and up will recognize is a dummy goes over a waterfall. The character survives the fall for a time, but is paralyzed and eventually dies. Mild scariness from dark woods and threatening weather enhanced by tense, dramatic music. Spoiler alert: A major character dies.

Sex

Sacagawea is obviously pregnant when she meets Lewis and Clark. Clark doesn't notice and learns about it much later when Lewis mentions it. Lewis and Clark help deliver the baby in a musical number with Sacagawea covered throughout.

Language

Lewis names a new bird species Clark's Nutcracker.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Jefferson drinks from a bottle and acts drunkenly. He also paralyzes Lewis and Clark by adding a "tonic" to their water flask.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Manifest Destiny: The Lewis & Clark Musical Adventure is a wildly inaccurate musical spoof of the famous expedition of western expansion. There's little content of concern, but it's best for kids old enough to understand that they're not seeing anything close to what really happened. It can be a good starting point for talking about what we really know about the people, the expedition, and how it shaped our country. Thomas Jefferson is a villain who tries to undermine Lewis and Clark so he can get all the credit, and a musical number shows him drinking heavily from a bottle and swaying. Lewis and Clark help deliver Sacagawea's baby in a musical number; she's covered by a blanket throughout. A puppet horse is shot off screen. Lewis picks up a bird that Clark shot and holds it in his hands. Older viewers will easily see it's a fake. A body goes over a tall waterfall. The character survives but is paralyzed. 

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Teen, 13 years old Written byThunder13 May 12, 2017

Lewis and Clark Review

The manifest destiny musical was hilarious yet very inaccurate based on the real expedition. I liked the movie but i would give it a 3.5 star rating.

What's the story?

In MANIFEST DESTINY: THE LEWIS & CLARK MUSICAL ADVENTURE, President Thomas Jefferson sends the two title characters to explore the land recently acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. Lewis and Clark set out to find a way to the Pacific Ocean and to study and map the new land. Native Sacagawea helps them, guiding them to the Rocky Mountains. As reports trickle back to the east, Jefferson becomes jealous of Lewis and Clark's fame and determines to grab the glory for himself. Will Lewis and Clark ever see the Pacific? And will Jefferson's plan to steal their maps and their fame succeed?

Is it any good?

This silly musical spoof of America's most famous explorers starts out well, with catchy musical numbers, witty songs, and a dash of cartoonish zaniness that tells you to let go of the facts. Unfortunately, Manifest Destiny: The Lewis & Clark Musical Adventure can't quite maintain that opening spirit through the whole 90 minutes. Eventually things start to feel a bit too earnest and sincere. The spoof loses its edge, and the inaccuracies, exaggerations, and cheesy puppetry start to lose their charm. It's based on a popular YouTube series that tells the story in shorter segments, which might be a better format for the actor/writers.

Best for older kids who'll take it with a large grain of salt. But it could be a good starting point for talking about what's inaccurate, why, and whether you think it's OK to take liberties with history.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Manifest Destiny: The Lewis & Clark Musical Adventure isn't accurate. Is it OK to make up your own versions of historical people and events? Why or why not?

  • What does the phrase "manifest destiny" really mean? Does the movie show its real meaning?

  • What do you know about Sacagawea? Is her portrayal accurate? Why or why not?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love history

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