Return to Snowy River

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Return to Snowy River Movie Poster Image
Occasionally violent sequel emphasizes love over status.
  • PG
  • 1988
  • 99 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The sequel continues with the same themes as the original: that women deserve to be treated as capable and not as subservient to men; that marriage should not be based on class and status but love and friendship; and that a father's love should be unconditional.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jim and Jessica's relationship is forward-thinking for a 19th century relationship, because it's based on love and respect and not social class or parental arrangement. Jim works hard for three years to secure a stable living before returning to ask Jessica to be with him. When faced with discrimination by his neighbors and a man with powerful resources, Jim doesn't back down and remains true to his sense of justice. Both Jim and Jessica are independent and don't mind bucking traditional social conventions to be together.

Violence

There's a good deal of violence for a PG-rated movie. The action includes mostly gun violence and a hand-to-hand brawl. A wild stallion tramples a man to death. Wealthy Alistair pays a group of men to harass Jim. After a dangerous leap down a mountain, a horse falters and dies. Alistair tries to kill Jim with a sword as if he was jousting. They have a fist fight and both men are seriously injured.

Sex

Jim and Jessica kiss passionately a couple of times. There is some sexual innuendo when a barmaid flirts with a rich patron. When he asks what's good, she says "everything" in an exaggerated manner and then tells him she's missed him. A woman leaves her father's house to live with the love of her life, but they are not married -- quite the scandal in 19th century Australia.

Language

Insults and language (said out of anger) peppered throughout the movie include "damned," "dimwits," "bloody," "mongrel," "silver spoon," and "rich bastard."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In a couple of scenes, men are shown drinking, usually heavily, in a tavern. Men also smoke in the saloon.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this sequel to the classic Australian western The Man from Snowy River includes several violent sequences and some language that may be too intense for younger elementary-aged kids. There's more violence than in most PG-rated movies: a horse tramples a man to death; a young man is beat up; a rich man pays a gang to harass the main character, and two men fight each other with a sword and then their fists. The salty language features several insults like "mongrel," "rich bastard," and the like. The romance highlighted in the original builds into a live-in relationship that bucks traditional standards and shows that marriage should be based on mutual love and respect, not convenience or class.

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What's the story?

In this 1988 sequel to 1982's Australian Western The Man From Snowy River, three years have passed since Jim Craig (Tom Burlinson) saves his Snowy River property and falls for Jessica (Sigrid Thornton), the daughter of a wealthy cattleman. In those three years, Jim has built up a stable living and is ready to start his life with Jessica, but her father Harrison (now played by Brian Dennehy) wants her to marry Alistair (Nicholas Eadie), the scion to an enormous fortune. When Jessica picks Jim, her father cuts her off and jilted Alistair decides to pay local goons to try and harass Jim off his land.

Is it any good?

This sequel feels a bit unnecessary. It's no surprise that producer Geoff Burrowes decided to follow up his successful original with a sequel, especially considering how popular the Australian-themed Crocodile Dundee was in the mid-'80s. But while it's good to see the self-made Jim return to his Snowy River home to settle down and ask lovely Jessica to be his wife, the loss of Kirk Douglas as Harrison (or Spur) is disappointing. Dennehy is a fine actor, but he doesn't compare to Douglas as the opinionated and occasionally cruel Harrison, and sadly there is no Spur at all.

Alistair, the villain of the sequel, is an obnoxious, self-entitled rich heir who can't stand that a woman would choose a "nobody" like Jim over him. Naturally it's a pleasure to watch Jim prove he's far worthier of Jessica's affections than the bratty Alistair, but some of the scenes are so overwrought and sentimental, the movie drags a bit in the middle. But as the tension builds into an inevitable face-off between Jim and Alistair, there's never a question of who the victor needs to be.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's message about the difference between self-made men and entitled sons of wealth. How do Jim and Alistair represent the new versus the old Australia? Why does Jim and Jessica's romance threaten the rich cattlemen?

  • Why are movies featuring horses still so popular today? What is it about horses and dogs, especially, that draw in viewers? Discuss your favorite horse movies.

  • Compare the sequel to the original. Does the sequel progress as you expected? Do you think Jim should have stayed with Jessica for the three years or was he right to build his small fortune?

Movie details

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