Family movie night? There's an app for that
Download our new mobile app on iOS and Android.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
For decades, U.S. presidents have ensured that portions of the country are left in their natural state and free to use by the public. That's changing as corporations try to get ahold of the land for monetary gain, and it's up to Americans to raise their voices to stop it.
Positive Role Models
People of various political persuasions work for greater good to tirelessly gather information, inform U.S. public, and stop the U.S. government from giving up federal lands to privatization. Indigenous Americans stand up and speak up against government giving away the land they rely on for survival, putting aside differences with other tribes to unite and create a coalition. A female rancher is positively featured.
Violence & Scariness
Hunters are shown carrying guns over their shoulders.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Two instances of strong language: "Asses" is heard in a rant, and "f--k you" can be seen written on a protest sign.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Apple products are shown with labels visible. The film was made by the Patagonia brand, but their products aren't featured in any obvious way.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
People hold beers at a rally.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Public Trust is a Robert Redford-produced documentary that looks at why federally protected lands are meaningful to Americans and how they're now at risk. It lays out how much national parks, monuments, and wildlife sanctuaries are appreciated by the full spectrum of Americans, no matter their age, income, or political party. A hunter/gun-enthusiast-turned-journalist, a Minnesotan outdoorsman, a young female rancher, and several members of various Native American tribes are featured positively for their dedication to raising awareness about why the preserved spaces and waterways are important -- and what it will mean if they're privatized. Positive outcomes from mobilizing and demonstrating are shown, and the film is empathetic toward Indigenous populations whose way of life is impacted by the loss of their ancestral lands. While the material isn't written to appeal to kids, there's little iffy content ("asses" is heard on a recording, and "f--k you" is written on a protest sign), and animal lovers and those who enjoy outdoor recreation might find it compelling. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This engaging, beautifully shot documentary isn't just good, it's enlightening -- and it should sound the alarms to American viewers, no matter their political party. Public Trust shines a light on the reasons why the United States has federally protected lands, why they're important, how almost all Americans enjoy them in some capacity, and why public discourse toward turning them over to gas, oil, and mining industries is gaining traction. Calm, rational, and geographically diverse voices share their plights and insights backed by a calming, poignant piano score. Together, they lay out a convincing presentation for why continuing to conserve the lands used for recreation, history, and sustenance is essential -- and the right of all American citizens.
As you might guess, it's shadowy figures, greedy corporations, and disingenuous politicians who are accused of wanting to divest U.S. public lands for their own financial gain. The "follow the money" angle is eye-opening, especially for young people who may be less aware of how special interests work to get political favor. The film outlines which U.S. politicians have taken money from which corporations and then shows C-SPAN and news footage with these same politicians aggressively fighting for the wishes of these companies -- often against their constituents' best interests. Public Trust also explains how, in the 1980s, a grassroots movement to take more control of public lands known as the Sagebrush Rebellion became funded by corporations who saw opportunity -- and that, too, can be eye-opening (although a deeper exploration of the evidence would be helpful). The one thing the film lacks is a credible representative of the pro-extraction sentiment. It would be helpful to present a balance and let viewers make their own decision. Because this film isn't just educational regarding the federally protected lands issue: It's a tool to spark critical thinking.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Our Editors Recommend
Movies That Inspire Kids to Change the World
Books to Inspire Young Activists
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