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Parent reviews for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Common Sense says

Old West anthology is riveting, unconventional, violent.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 6 reviews
Parent Written byCriticus November 29, 2018

Ballad of Brutality

Something about the off-beat humour (it might better be called a sense of caustic irony) of the Coen brothers' influence in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs reeks of a very misguided idea of entertainment. I'm not seasoned enough to contrast the preceding chapters of their careers, but for sure this particular gunslinging tale misses the target. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs takes only a few minutes of your time to inform you that the deliciously photographed vistas (valleys, deserts, saloons and banks), the pleasing sight of Western caravans trailing away through the scrub, and the romance of the strange lands and the strange inhabitants thereof, are all a facade - a sort of ungraspable illusory ideal that is never truely lived out and enjoyed because this is no world of niceties, but one of blood, tragedy and lawlessness. Gunslingers heedlessly sing as they blow out the brains of their less fortunate compadres, and in every quarter of life in this Western nightmare, people are shown to be entirely consumed by nihilism, greed and selfishness. With a mind to avoid spoiling the six individually unique stories comprised in this Western, I can only say: In the Coen brothers' world, no-one lives happily ever after. Thankfully, the film has the good taste to remain mostly aloof from matters of sexuality, and the one caution here is a scene in which it is heavily implied that a man spends a night with a prostitute. Nothing graphic is shown, as the scene cuts from around the time they begin removing their clothes, and resumes later on. Elsewhere, rape is referenced. Language isn't a great concern. The movie contains mild curse words such as "son-of-a-bi***", "bast***", 'da**it" and according to other sources, sh** is mouthed and also said in French once. There is plenty of tobacco and alcohol on display throughout the stories, but violence is more worrying than anything, with a large body count, and often a lot of blood. It's on this account that the R rating is really earned. In closing, I would consider this film worthwhile, but certainly only for adults/older teenagers and then I would remind them to take it with a grain of salt. For, as aesthetically pleasing and technically sound as it may be, the dark, tragic nature of this wild world presents a miserable and hopeless existence, which we must all remember is surely not our own.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Adult Written byamargosa December 1, 2018

Racism and gratuitous violence isn't acceptable "irony"

I thought that "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" was senselessly violent, racist, and had nothing to say about "the West." The "Gal Who Got Rattled" episode was especially disgusting for children and adults. It has a racist, stereotyped depiction of Native Americans which is not "irony," or a tongue-in-cheek throwback to earlier Westerns, etc. It is just stupid and racist. The woman protagonist in this episode was also painfully buffeted and used by every man around her. I thought it was a needlessly sexist and a hackneyed representation of women. I also think categories should be added in the "What should other families know about this" section below: racism, and sexism. Also, it was beyond "Too much violence." This episode was sick and twisted. Who needs this?
Adult Written byGrimms January 19, 2019

Perfect for the right sort of morbid and thoughtful teenager

It’s grim and funny and thought provoking, perfect for that morbid early teen age that wishes you’d stop lying to them about the cold facts of life—like a pre-code comic book version of a 1940’s singing cowboy movie, or a Grimm’s fairy tale, plus some murder ballads for good measure. It’s honest about human nature, the propensity for evil, and the reality of death. It’s also a very moral film. I can see how some would hate it or find it inappropriate, but I think it could be a bonding and memorable moviegoing experience for father and sons, in particular— granted, a particular subset of fathers and sons. Parents should watch it for themselves first and determine if its viewpoint aligns with their own, and also think it would impart something meaningful and important to their own child’s moral development. I believe many would, and I think the appropriate young teen would have great esteem for a parent who’d hip them to this film.
Adult Written bytlspam2014 March 17, 2019

fantastic filmmaking

For parents, be aware that there is plenty of violence and death is present in every episode. But this is great film-making, with wonderful acting and beautiful cinematography. Very thought provoking, unlike most films today.