A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Kid is a Western that features infamous outlaw Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan) and Sheriff Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke), but its focus is on a teen boy (Jake Schur) who meets both men and must make a difficult decision. This is a brutal, rough movie, but it also offers thoughtful questions about violence and its consequences. Viewers will see intense violence against women, as well as lots of guns and shooting (including by the teen boy), blood spurts, dead bodies, and gore. A man is hung by the neck, and knives and broken glass are used as weapons. Language includes many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "son of a bitch," "bastard," and more. Sex isn't really an issue, but Billy is seen kissing a girlfriend, and one scene is set inside a whorehouse. Characters sometimes drink whiskey or smoke cigars, and there's a spoken story about a man who's a "drunk."
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What's the story?
In THE KID, 14-year-old Rio (Jake Schur) can no longer stand by while his father beats his mother, so he intervenes and kills the former -- unfortunately too late to save the latter. So Rio and his older sister, Sara (Leila George), hit the trails, pursued by their vicious Uncle Grant (Chris Pratt). While hiding, the siblings unexpectedly encounter a ragged, road-weary Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan) and his gang. Rio is in awe of the outlaw celebrity, and when Billy hears their story and promises to help them, Rio counts on him keeping his word. But Sheriff Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke) is hot on Billy's trail and manages to catch him, carting the whole bunch to Santa Fe, where Rio and Sara hope to secure help from a friend of their mother's. But Grant finds the siblings, takes Sara away to be his slave, and threatens to kill Rio if he follows. More than ever, Rio needs Billy's help -- but can Billy actually keep his promise?
Is it any good?
The first major Billy the Kid movie since Young Guns II, this rough, sturdy Western is unflinchingly brutal. But it also offers thoughtful ruminations on the nature of violence and its repercussions. Directed by Vincent D'Onofrio -- who also appears as a sheriff in one scene -- The Kid explores violence in a way that's similar to Clint Eastwood's great Unforgiven, although more primitive. The Kid coaxes viewers into seeing Billy as a kind of hero while casting lawman Garrett as unpleasant and relentless. Billy is frequently high-spirited, but in a low moment he confesses his true misery -- and the realization that "no good moment I ever had weren't a lie." Garrett gets his own moment of confession, but he's more steadfast, claiming that "a man's wrongs matter, but there's nothing as important as what he does next."
Despite the star power of legends Billy and Garrett, Rio is actually the movie's main character, and young Schur -- making his movie debut -- holds his own with the veterans. DeHaan is the perfect Billy, cocky and lean, with yellow teeth from too much time in hiding, and Hawke is positively frightening as the intense, grim Garrett (he shoots a horse in his first scene). D'Onofrio, who's better known as an actor, seems to prefer concentrating on moments of character rather than visuals, but his grimy Western landscapes are perfectly suited to the story; most shots feel constricting, rather than the usual open ranges of other Westerns. The Kid may not be pretty, but it's truthful and keenly affecting.
Talk to your kids about ...
Do you agree with Pat Garrett when he says that "a man's wrongs matter, but there's nothing as important as what he does next"? Can wrongdoing be forgiven?
Why is an outlaw like Billy the Kid -- who died in 1881 at the age of 21 -- still so fascinating?
What's the appeal of the Western genre? What kinds of things do Westerns tell us about ourselves? What were the good things and bad things about the Wild West?
How does the movie view women? Is this view part of the time in which the movie takes place? Is the movie trying to say something more?
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