The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter Movie Poster Image
Parody lands with a thud; language, violence, drinking.
  • NC-17
  • 2018
  • 83 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Communication and love between parent and child are valuable, but often hard to maintain. Parodies "boy-men" who are passionate about hunting but don't have a clear point of view with regard to the issue.

Positive Role Models & Representations

 A clueless individual shows a young boy pornographic photographs of African American men engaged in sexual activity. Not too much is visible, but the concept is clear.

 

Violence

A 12-year-old boy is in danger in multiple sequences: thrown from a moving vehicle, struggling in raging river rapids, careening through a forest in an off-road vehicle, dangling from a rope bridge. Multiple visuals of deer hunted and shot. A fistfight. A central character is shot, severely wounded and near death. Plenty of blood. A lengthy climactic ride on an air mattress through major river rapids.

Sex

Adult male tries to engage 12-year-old boy in sexual banter, shows him pornographic pictures that are talked about but not shown clearly -- just bodies engaged in group sexual encounters. He uses inappropriate sexual language and references.

Language

Coarse language includes "bitch," "goddamn," "jacking off," "p---y," "hell," "pecker," "take a leak," "s--t," and "Jesus Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

Winchester rifle.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adult males drink whiskey in several scenes, let 12-year-old have a few sips. In one sequence, father chugs whiskey from a bottle, gets drunk. Smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter is a comedy that attempts to deliver some viable messages about a father-son relationship. Filmmaker Jody Hill, who has a considerable fan base from such TV fare as Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, specializes in leading male characters who are toxic to those around them, behave badly, and are clueless about their impact -- basically man-boys who live by their own harebrained rules. Hill's hero this time is the beleaguered deer hunter who sincerely believes that by sharing the thrill of his 12-year-old son's first kill, he and the boy will form a bond. Their days-long odyssey in the wild finds the "hero," his assistant, and most often his son, in very dangerous situations. There's a serious accident in an off-road vehicle, a near drowning in a raging river, and a plummet from a rope bridge. One of the men gets shot, bleeds profusely, and lies near death. In a series of film clips, deer are killed by rifle fire. Additionally, the young boy is "gifted" with both an assault rifle with laser site and a Winchester rifle. Expect lots of profanity (e.g., "s--t," "p---y," "hell," "damn," "jacking off"), as well as some inappropriate sexual banter with the child. He's also shown pornographic photographs not fully visible to the audience, but which the boy sees clearly. Characters smoke, drink, and give the boy sips of whiskey, and the dad gets drunk chugging from a bottle.

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What's the story?

Still hurting from his divorce and concerned that he's losing his beloved 12-year-old son, Jaden (Montana Jordan), to the new man in his ex-wife's life, Buck Ferguson (Josh Brolin) plans a three-day hunting trip in THE LEGACY OF A WHITETAIL DEER HUNTER. Buck, the star of a syndicated reality TV show about whitetail deer hunting, is certain that by showing Jaden the joys of the hunt and the kill, the two will share a thrilling experience, cementing their relationship. So, father and son, accompanied by Don (Danny McBride), Buck's loyal cameraman (and usually willing victim of his bullying), set out to find a very special ("non-typical") deer to kill. They'll film the journey for what will be a spectacular episode of the show. Unfortunately, Jaden is far more interested in his cell phone conversations with his girlfriend, his music, even his hair. He has no interest in killing deer, and very little interest in his dad. Buck's spirit is crushed, and even after they see the perfect specimen of non-typical deer, tracking it only makes things worse. They find themselves in situations so dangerous that the thin thread that binds them may be finally stretched beyond repair.

Is it any good?

Josh Brolin makes a valiant attempt to give his clueless, misguided character some heart, but this distasteful, overlong (even at 83 minutes) film is billed as a comedy, and it's just not funny. It's a bad idea to arm a 12-year-old boy with an assault rifle and show him pornographic photos of a white woman engaged in sexual activity with African American men. Of course, bad ideas are possibly exactly what Hill and company were hoping for with The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter. Dashing mainstream taste and civility (aka political correctness) is a marketable pastime, but in this case, not very appealing. In some instances, it appears that Hill's intent is to laugh at the macho hunter with his passion for the kill. On the other hand, there are plenty of shots in which deer are killed, and Buck keeps extolling the thrill it brings.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about filmmakers' attitudes about controversial issues. Did The Legacy of a Whitetail Deer Hunter have a clear point of view about deer hunting? If so, what was that point of view? If not, in a comedy like this one, does point of view matter? Why or why not? Did the film impact your thoughts about the subject?

  • How did this movie treat bad behavior, such as Buck's negligence with Jaden, or his getting drunk at an inappropriate moment? Were there consequences for him? What, if anything, do you think Buck learned from his journey with his son? 

  • Buck's efforts at "bonding" with Jaden were unorthodox. What are some positive experiences parents and kids can share to enhance their relationships? What do you most like doing with the adults in your life? 

Movie details

For kids who love to laugh

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