A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Road (based on the 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy) is a relentlessly grim, gray portrait of a future in which an unnamed disaster has wiped most living things from the Earth, food is scarce, and people have resorted to cannibalism. (In other words, not a kid movie!) The main characters are a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his 10-year-old son; their relationship is wonderfully touching and ever hopeful, but the surrounding movie is depressing and sometimes violent, with many depictions of and references to suicide (including the boy's mother), as well as some scenes with gunfire and threats. Though older teens and adults may find it a meaningful, if not exactly entertaining, experience, know that it's not the Mad Max-type action movie that some ads have promised.
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What's the story?
In the future, an unnamed disaster has ravaged Earth, wiping out most animal and plant life. Electricity is gone, food is scarce, and everything has turned cold and gray from falling ash. A man (Viggo Mortensen) and his 10-year-old son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) make their way along the dangerous road toward the coast in the hopes of finding something -- anything -- there. Along the way, they meet some dangerous cannibals -- as well as some good people -- and together they must nurture their fragile flame of hope.
Is it any good?
The Road is a well-made movie and a powerful story. But despite the characters' persistent hope, the relentlessly grim material -- including the constant, cold, gray visuals -- can be overwhelming, somewhat stalling the drama's forward momentum. Indeed, it's hard to argue that Hillcoat's intense visual presentation adds anything to or improves upon McCarthy's spare prose. Overall though, The Road is effective -- and interesting as a comparison for those who loved the book.
Australian director John Hillcoat (The Proposition) has brought the 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men) to the screen faithfully, with only a few dramatic additions for the actors' benefit, as well as at least one action-oriented sequence. The emotional core of the movie is the same as the book: the moving relationship between the man and his son and the way they rely on each other for hope and survival.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the unnamed disaster that brought the world to this point. What would life be like after something like that? What could or couldn't you do anymore?
Why is the boy more hopeful and trustworthy than his father? What could the boy know or understand that his father doesn't?
What made the boy's mother commit suicide? Why did she give up hope when the man and the boy still had hope?
- In theaters: November 25, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: May 25, 2010
- Cast: Charlize Theron, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Viggo Mortensen
- Director: John Hillcoat
- Studio: Dimension
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 119 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some violence, disturbing images and language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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