The Old Man & the Gun

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Old Man & the Gun Movie Poster Image
Redford plays a lovable thief in gentle, fact-based drama.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 93 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Mixed messages: It's good to do what you love, but what if what you love is illegal? There are passages about whether the main character's 10-year-old self would be proud of the choices he's made and lots of other things to think about, but the movie doesn't exactly take a hard stand against robbery.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Forrest is kind and polite and usually treats others with respect. He's also happy and generous. But on the other hand, he's a criminal and an escape artist, and he is caught lying in some scenes. He's made a life doing something he absolutely loves, but what he loves is illegal.

Violence

Character with gunshot wound; blood on shirt. Gun shown in some shots but not fired. Mention of people being shot, spoken stories about guns. Brief car chases and fender-benders.

Sex

Married couple kisses and dances.

Language

A use of "f--k," plus uses of "s--t," "hell," "damn," "Christ" (as an exclamation).

Consumerism

Budweiser beer bottles. Pepsi/Mountain Dew sign.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink beer in social settings. Brief smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Old Man & the Gun is a drama based on the true story of a man (Robert Redford) who spent his entire life being a criminal and escaping from prison, simply because he loved it. The content is appropriate for teens and up, but older viewers will likely get the most out of it. Guns are shown, and although there's very little shooting, viewers will see a gunshot wound with a bloody shirt. Characters also talk about guns and shooting, and there are brief, mild scenes of car chases and crashes. Language includes a use of "f--k" and a few uses of "s--t." Characters drink beer in a social setting, and one smokes a cigarette. A married couple is shown kissing, dancing, and being affectionate. This is a small movie, but it's one to cherish.

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What's the story?

In THE OLD MAN & THE GUN, which is based on a true story, Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) is a lifelong criminal, escape artist, and master bank robber. His method includes dressing nicely, showing (but not firing) his gun, being polite, and not taking too much money. While escaping one robbery in 1981, he stops to help a woman, Jewel (Sissy Spacek), on the side of the road, and they form a sweet relationship. Then, Forrest and his partners, Waller (Danny Glover) and Teddy (Tom Waits), quietly rob a bank where police detective John Hunt (Casey Affleck) is waiting in line. When Hunt discovers what's happened, his embarrassment pushes him to find the robbers and bring them in. Of course, Forrest could try to stop doing what he does, but the truth is that he genuinely loves his "job."

Is it any good?

Director David Lowery brings his gentle, dreamy touch to this true story, taking it somewhere above most biopics; it's smaller in scale, with less at stake, but it's also somehow more legendary. In terrific films like Pete's Dragon (which also starred Redford) and A Ghost Story, Lowery slowed things down to give viewers -- and characters -- time to ponder life's strangest, most wonderful moments of magic and mystery. He does the same in The Old Man & the Gun, somehow unhampered by the constraints of a "true story" or "biopic" movie formula.

Redford positively glows here, perhaps enjoying this role more thoroughly than any in a long time. He and Spacek are adorable, Affleck is appealingly flawed (and has several touching family scenes with Tika Sumpter as his wife), and the enviable supporting cast lends a classical weight to the movie. In addition to Glover and Waits, there's also Elisabeth Moss, Keith Carradine, Gene Jones, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and more. Overall, The Old Man & the Gun may feel deceptively slight, and it does prattle on a few minutes too long at the end, but it's an absolute dream of a movie -- one to cherish.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how The Old Man & the Gun depicts violence. How frequently are guns shown? How frequently are they used? Are guns glamorized in any way?

  • Is Forrest Tucker a role model? Why or why not? What are his admirable qualities? What are his less-than-admirable ones?

  • Is it possible for younger viewers to enjoy a story about an older man? Why or why not?

Movie details

For kids who love dramas

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