The Alamo Movie Poster Image

The Alamo

Doesn't work despite Thornton's top performance.
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2004
  • Running Time: 135 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

There is definitely a sense of national pride in this film, but considering the complicated political context of The Alamo it should be viewed with the intention for discussion.


Intense battle violence. Everyone in the Alamo is killed.


Sexual situation, not explicit but with an implication of coercion.


Some strong language.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Drinking and smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie has intense battle violence with many deaths. Everyone in the Alamo is killed (made clear at the very beginning of the movie). Characters drink and smoke and use some strong language, including insults like "catamite" that might be unfamiliar to today's audiences. There is a sexual situation with a hint of coercion. A character refuses to free his slave, saying, "You're my property until I die."

What's the story?

Dennis Quaid stars as General Sam Houston in this retelling of the famous 1836 battle, in which Mexico's Santa Anna and his troops battle against the Americans at the Alamo Mission during the Texan War of Independence. Among the Americans fighting in the battle over the Texas territory are Jim Bowie (Jason Patric) and Davy Crockett (Billy Bob Thornton). The battle goes on for days, and American enforcements are sent for, but the Mexicans manage to scale the walls of the mission-turned-fort before Houston and his troops arrive.

Is it any good?


There is only one reason to see THE ALAMO, and it is Billy Bob Thornton. His portrayal of Davy Crockett is magnificently vibrant, fully imagined, and breathtakingly evocative of the essence of the American hero. The battle sequences are well staged, putting the audience in the center of the action. And the movie address racism, with slaves talking about whether they would be better off as Mexicans, and Hispanic Texans explaining why they chose to fight the Mexicans.

Despite all of that, however, the movie just does not work. The narrative is so muddled and the pace so choppy that we never connect with the characters or their cause. It makes the fatal mistake of assuming that it is enough to put American icons on one side and a choleric popinjay of a general who wears a uniform out of a Friml operetta, barks at his subordinates, and preys on young women on the other. It isn't. This is not a fight about religious freedom or taxation without representation or stopping a despotic marauder. It is a fight over who will own the land that wasn't theirs to begin with. And it is hard to cheer for the independence of the "Texians" when we know they're just going to end up part of America anyway.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why it made such a difference when Travis picked up the cannonball. What did Travis mean when he said, "Texas has been a second chance for me. We will sell our lives dearly?" Why didn't Travis and Bowie get along? How did Crockett's understanding of what he represented to his fans affect his decision about how to respond? How did the white and non-white characters see their priorities differently? How does this story relate to current conflicts in Israel, Iraq, and Afghanistan?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:April 9, 2004
DVD/Streaming release date:September 28, 2004
Cast:Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quaid, Jason Patric
Directors:John Lee Hancock, John Sayles
Studio:Touchstone Pictures
Run time:135 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sustained intense battle sequences.

This review of The Alamo was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Glory Movie Poster Image
    Excellent Civil War movie has graphic violence, profanity.
  • Saving Private Ryan Movie Poster Image
    Bloody, tragic war epic doesn't hold back.
  • The Patriot Movie Poster Image
    Rousing Revolutionary War tale has graphic battle scenes.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 14 years old Written byFILMCRITIC500 November 17, 2012

beautiful, sweeping, but violent account of true story in Texas

this powerful and violent epic tells the true story of The Alamo, a place where the Mexican army captured during a small war in Texas. groups of Texans help to defend the Alalmo, but fail in doing so. they then go on to defeating the Mexican army. this film has great cinematography and special effects, but is very violent. there are countless shootings, stabbings, explosions, destruction, and hand to hand fighting. mixed in the with all the hardcore thrills, is plenty of modearte language and scenes of heavy drinking.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byhistory teacher February 14, 2011

7th Grade and up!

I am shocked at how CS was concerned about the violence in the movie. was a BATTLE and yes, they all died in real life! I don't think we should sugarcoat reality! I am concerned as to whether the person reviewing this for them even knows history! In my opinion, it would be the language that is the problem. Sexual conduct as a problem? Really??? So...I guess Gone With The Wind is also not appropriate due to Belle! I think this is perfect for a junior high or high school order to teach the kids WHY the Alamo is so important in Texas' history...and why they wanted independence. By the clearly shows that Mexicans ALSO wanted independence from Santa Anna. Let's revisit our reviewing policies shall we?
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byBrendan Conway January 15, 2011

anyone who likes learning about warfare

watched this movie in class
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models