A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this grim remake of the powerful 1971 Sam Peckinpah movie (which starred Dustin Hoffman) has very strong violence, including many gruesome murders, a brutal rape scene, and dead animals. While the original used its edgy content to explore character, the remake is much less subtle, which makes the violence seem intended to be thrilling rather than thought provoking. There aren't any positive messages or role models here; the main character is a passive, ineffectual man whose only way to regain his "manhood" is to defend himself and his wife through violence. There's also frequent strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "p---y," etc.), sexual situations (though no nudity), and lots of drinking (always Budweiser), including one character who's shown to have a drinking problem.
What's the story?
Actress Amy (Kate Bosworth) returns to her small Mississippi hometown with her Hollywood screenwriter husband, David Sumner (James Marsden), so he can work on his new script. They hire Amy's former boyfriend, Charlie (True Blood's Alexander Skarsgard), and his buddies to repair the barn roof ... and so begins a series of subtle psychological games designed to make David look foolish and weak. Eventually, a deadly incident leads up to a violent stand-off, in which David must take up arms to defend his wife and his home.
Is it any good?
Film critic-turned-director Rod Lurie unwisely tries to redo Sam Peckinpah with this incendiary tale. In Peckinpah's hands, the story (which was originally based on a 1969 novel by Gordon M. Williams) was an intensely psychological thriller about perceived masculinity. The remake avoids anything psychological -- or even emotional -- and turns it into a rather empty and soulless revenge thriller. This time the characters don't make much sense, and when they change or snap, it seems too sudden, rather than gradual.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's violence. What is its purpose? Do you think it's necessary to the story? How does it compare to what you see in horror movies?
How does the movie address the idea of "manhood"? Is it a relevant concept? Does a guy have to act strong or do violent things to be considered a "man"?
Are there any good people in this movie?
- In theaters: September 16, 2011
- On DVD or streaming: December 20, 2011
- Cast: Alexander Skarsgard, James Marsden, Kate Bosworth
- Director: Rod Lurie
- Studio: Screen Gems
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 110 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong brutal violence including a sexual attack, menace, some sexual content, and pervasive language
For kids who love thrills
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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.