The Journey of Natty Gann

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
The Journey of Natty Gann Movie Poster Image
Compelling adventure too violent for some kids.
  • PG
  • 1985
  • 101 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Natty does some things because of her poverty: She breaks into a movie theater to watch a movie, steals food, and helps some kids steal a cow and car. Men gamble on a dog fight.


A man who picks up Natty hitchhiking attempts to sexually assault her. A train derails and sends Natty flying. Some punching, rock-throwing, slapping, explosions, and a serious fall from a tree. Dogs are shown fighting with bloodied mouths and Wolf attacks two men. Natty skins a bunny and cooks it. Vigilantes torch a shanty town and beat the homeless people there.


Natty and Harry kiss once.


A few uses of "hell," "son of a bitch," "d--m," and "s--t."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Connie smokes cigarettes and drinks liquor. Natty and her friends share a cigarette. Harry smokes cigarettes. The lumberjack foreman smokes a cigar.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this movie is set in the Depression and depicts the bleakness of extreme poverty. Natty's mother is dead and her father leaves her because he found work across the country, so Natty must fend for herself. While there's considerable violence -- from a bloody dog fight to a man who tries to assault Natty when he offers to give her a ride -- the scarier moments aren't portrayed as graphically as they could be. Even when a train derails, Natty walks away with only a few scrapes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygsgk1006 November 27, 2019

Very mature content! Watch first.

Some of the things you will see in this movie:

-Attempted sexual assault (a man tries to push Natty into his lap while driving, saying she is pretty, and forci... Continue reading
Adult Written bytryingnottohelicopte April 8, 2017

Be prepared to talk to your kids about dogfights, sexual predators, stealing...

My kids didn't like this movie and dubbed it "Not Agann"... they are 7 and 9 and a lot of it was pretty dreary. I enjoyed it for the most part, b... Continue reading
Kid, 10 years old June 13, 2013

OMG Best Movie EVER!!!!!

I absolutely loved his movie, it is my favorite movie of all time!!!!
There is a bit of language, and some violence, but Natty Gann is strong and stands up for... Continue reading

What's the story?

Despite having lost a mother as a child, Natty Gann (Meredith Salenger) lives happily with her union-thumping dad in a hotel. The family is content but poor. But when Natty's dad Sol (Ray Wise) gets the chance at a job across the country, he reluctantly takes it, promising to send for Natty as soon as he gets money. Left alone with only the mean landlady (Lainie Kazan) who plans to turn her in to social services, Natty decides to find her dad on her own. Natty doesn't know where in Washington state he is or have a dime in her pocket, but she joins the bands of tramps and orphaned kids trying to make it on their own in one of the roughest times in American history.

Is it any good?

In an odd way, THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN has more in common with Lassie Come Home and Homeward Bound than teenage coming-of-age movies. It's not about an inner journey, really. It's about a cross-country adventure and the strength and fun that Natty finds along the way.

There are definitely some tense, scary moments on her journey. Natty's saving grace is that she finds parent figures along the way, from a wolf who offers her his kill to Harry (John Cusack) who teaches her how to ride the rails and offers her his meager can of beans when she's hungry. Because of Harry's fatherly kindness to Natty, it's a little off-putting when a romance blooms between the two.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the Great Depression affected their grandparents and great-grandparents. How realistic were some of the scarier things in the film, like kids orphaned by parents who left to get work?

Movie details

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