The Lone Ranger

  • Review Date: July 1, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 149 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Occasionally entertaining but overlong and overly violent.
  • Review Date: July 1, 2013
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 149 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The message is rather dubious, because the law doesn't necessarily provide true justice, so ultimately the Lone Ranger decides to work outside law enforcement. Tonto and John do form a brotherhood of sorts and, despite all their bickering, have each other's back again and again.

Positive role models

The Reid brothers are both upstanding, moral men who believe in what they do: Dan as a Texas Ranger and John as an attorney and man of the law. Tonto is dedicating to righting the wrong that led to the deaths of so many of his tribe. He helps the Lone Ranger again and again, though they do work outside of standard channels/procedures. Rebecca, Dan's wife, is the opposite of a damsel in distress. She displays courage and bravery throughout the film.

Violence

More violence than you might expect, and some of it is pretty close up. Villain Butch Cavendish not only shoots people, but he's also known for eating their body parts. Audiences watch as he slices a man's stomach open and then holds his victim's heart in his hands. In silhouette, he's then shown eating the heart. There are lots of explosions, and the body count is quite high. A group of white (and one Mexican) outlaws dresses up like Native Americans and terrorizes people using arrows, burning down homes, etc. Butch's crew kills people -- usually with guns. The Army fights Native Americans, sparing no one. A woman is kept as a hostage and slapped/pushed/threatened. Butch alludes to rape when threatening her. Men are scalped and blown to pieces and drowned; horses are shot and killed in battle. A young man lies and says that Tonto and the Ranger threatened to "violate" him. A boy holds a gun on a man who's threatening his mother, and a boy is slapped in the face by a man. There's also a very startling scene in which seemingly cute bunnies turn ferocious.

Sex

A couple of kisses and a passionate embrace. A scene takes place in a brothel, but nothing too risque is shown other than women dressed in cleavage-baring corsets.

Language

Native Americans are referred to as "savages," "Injuns," and "heathens"; other insults and exclamations include "hell," "harlot," "damn," "drunks," "ass," "oh my God," and "idiot."

Consumerism

No product placements in the movie, but there are plenty of off-screen endorsement deals, from LEGO sets targeted at kids 9+ to promotions at Subway restaurants.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults drink from jugs and wine glasses. A couple of men smoke cigars (accurate for the era).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Lone Ranger is a reboot of the famous TV show and film serials about a lawman-turned-vigilante and his trusty Native American sidekick, Tonto. Only in Pirates of the Caribbean director Gore Verbinski's take, Tonto (Johnny Depp) isn't merely a secondary character -- he's the story's guide, catalyst, and narrator. There's a surprising amount of violence -- not just the body count, but also persistent references to cannibalism (including a scene of a man's heart being cut out and eaten, albeit partially in shadow) and rape. (Some of the scary scenes are interrupted by flash-forwards, relieving the intensity, but things still get tense.) The language is mild, as is the sexuality (although one scene does take place in a brothel, and a supporting player is a madam), and the drinking is done by adults. A kid holds a gun to a man who's threatening his mother's life, and the lesson that sometimes the law can't provide true justice takes a bit of discussion. On the plus side, Depp has said he is in fact of Native American heritage and had the support of several Native American groups in his portrayal of Tonto.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Director Gore Verbinski reteams with his Pirates of the Caribbean muse Johnny Depp in a reboot of the character made popular in the 1950s TV Western and 1930s film serials. With Depp co-starring as Tonto, Verbinski makes the Native American character more of a protagonist and narrator than a mere sidekick. The framing story takes place in 1933 San Francisco, where a Lone Ranger-costumed boy meets an ancient "Noble Savage," who's actually Tonto. The wrinkled Native American tells the boy the story of THE LONE RANGER. Originally an attorney, John Reid (Armie Hammer) returns to his small Texas town, where his brother Dan (James Badge Dale) is the head Ranger and where a railroad executive (Tom Wilkinson) is planning a public execution to prove to the community that the train won't bring lawlessness. But the criminal Butch Cavendish (William Fichtner) escapes, and Dan's entire crew of Rangers is killed trying to recapture him, including the newly deputized John. But a white spirit horse (yes, it's Silver) leads Tonto to John's body, who re-awakens and eventually becomes the masked lawman. John and Tonto must hesitantly work together to bring justice.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

On a purely nostalgic level, there's something viscerally entertaining about hearing Rossini's iconic "William Tell Overture" and seeing Depp and Hammer get the bad guys (and laughing as Tonto tells the Lone Ranger never to say "Hi-yo, Silver, away!" again). Full points to Disney and Depp for reimagining Tonto as a sarcastic guide with an emotional backstory and for reaching out to the Native American community to assure them that Tonto wouldn't be reduced to a minstrel act. Depp's Tonto is incredibly clever and wise, albeit seemingly incapable of more than one facial expression.

The problem with The Lone Ranger -- beyond the unnecessarily long runtime -- is that it's a strange hybrid of politically correct Western and mindless popcorn fodder that somehow manages to take itself far too seriously. Of course there's humor and plenty of extravagant set pieces the likes of which only a Depp and Verbinski production financed by Jerry Bruckheimer could afford. But there's also an overly complicated plot line that might confuse tweens (not to mention far more violence -- cannibalism! rape references!) than you'd expect in a movie with LEGO tie-ins) and a rather bland Ranger who's a lot less compelling than his dead brother (Dale deserves a leading role, stat) and, of course, the scenery chewing (and crow-feeding) Tonto. It doesn't seem like the start of a beautiful franchise, but where there's explosions and Johnny Depp in a costume, you never know.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the violence in The Lone Ranger. Is there more, less, or the amount you expected in the movie? What is the violence motivated by? What is its impact?

  • Johnny Depp, who's partially of Native American heritage, and Disney reached out to the Native community to make sure that his portrayal of Tonto wasn't offensive. Do you think they succeeded?

  • Discuss the history of the railroad, the idea of manifest destiny, and why the country's Westward expansion was so pivotal in the decades after the Civil War. Talk about the facts that there really were many Chinese men involved in the making of the railroad and that the history of the Native Americans in the late 19th century is one of death and loss of land.

  • This adventure is an origin story for the Lone Ranger of television lore. What do you think of the story line? Has it sparked or renewed your interest in the TV show?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 3, 2013
DVD release date:December 17, 2013
Cast:Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp
Director:Gore Verbinski
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Genre:Action/Adventure
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, History
Run time:149 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:sequences of intense action and violence, and some suggestive material

This review of The Lone Ranger was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Educator and Parent Written byHaney7 July 7, 2013
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

The Lone Ranger lighthearted entertainment.

This is a GREAT movie! I can't believe all the bad reviews. We weren't even going to go b/c of the negative publicity but the movie we wanted to see wasn't on at the theater we went to so we saw this one. It is light hearted, corn ball humor with a positive message. It lovingly pokes fun at the original Lone Ranger. This movie has the backdrop of the original old westerns, but with today's crazy special effects. We were prepared to just enjoy the popcorn, but were pleasantly surprised and entertained. There is one horribly graphic scene where the bad guy carves out the heart of one of his victims. My husband said they didn't actually show everything, I covered my eyes so I don't know, but there is plenty of warning for what he is about to do so you can not watch that part. Then there is a one legged salon girl who sort of has some sexual innuendo in a brothel, but it's all talk nothing ever happens. I would not say that this film includes sexuality except maybe for that scene in the brothel. Just girls in old fashioned western dance hall dresses, which are fairly modest by today's standards. The movie does run rather long. That was the worst of it. Very little if any profanity. The Lone Ranger presents an incredibly old fashioned hero, squeaky clean. The special effects are of course unbelievable but they sure fit the Lone Ranger nicely. Won't spoil it for you here, just wait and see. Go see this one, the critics are WAY OFF!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written bykning July 3, 2013
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Violent with an identity crisis

This movie couldn't make up its mind whether to be serious or comedic. There were some humorous, light-hearted parts between Tonto and the Lone Ranger, but then there would be a gruesome, violent scene. It was jarring. As a parent, I would hesitate to take my kids because of the violence. They would have to cover their eyes/ears for several scenes, and then would be lost as to what was going on in the movie. The movie is also very long, and I think they would be bored. It's not an amazing movie, and it's just not worth risking it with the kids.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 15 years old Written byStemma21 July 3, 2013
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Long, violent movie; just not as thrilling as expected

A man has his heart cut out, and that is pretty graphic, but the rest of the violence isn't graphic at all. Shootouts and fighting scattered throughout. A good amount of innuendo. This dragged a bit too much, and just didn't meet expectations.
What other families should know
Too much violence

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