The Alamo

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
The Alamo Movie Poster Image
Doesn't work despite Thornton's top performance.
  • PG-13
  • 2004
  • 135 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

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.

Violence

Intense battle violence. Everyone in the Alamo is killed.

Sex

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

Language

Some strong language.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinking and smoking.

What 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."

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byERIKA M. April 4, 2018

Appropriate for educational purposes...

This film is appropriate for viewing in grade 4 (approx. age 10+) with parental permission/with a parent present. Without parental permission/a parent present,... Continue reading
Adult Written byLowe's man July 29, 2017

stuff to be learned

I agree with the teacher who says that this movie can be viewed by anyone from 7th grade on up. Those who watch this movie will learn some little known facts.... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJ-Train August 9, 2017

Tells a great story

The Alamo tells a powerful true story and is also very sad. I saw this movie when I was in 7th grade in Texas History class and it is very emotionally moving mo... Continue reading
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... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

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