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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Overall the movie creates a feeling of hopelessness, with its relentlessly gray world destroyed by the hand of man (though it's never explained exactly what happened). But the man still clings to his responsibility to raise and teach the boy all the things he knows, in the hope that there still might be a future, somehow. Likewise, their continuing journey to the sea is also based on the hope that something will still be there.
Positive Role Models
The man is something of a positive role model, since he continues to hope and to plan a future for his boy, no matter how uncertain it may be. But at the same time, he succumbs to frustration and paranoia and refuses to trust anyone. The boy, born after the disaster, turns out to be the movie's real role model. He's open-hearted and wishes to help others, and his hope is purer.
Violence & Scariness
Not a huge quantity of violent scenes, but what's included can be quite disturbing. There's plenty of suicide and suggestions of suicide, with people giving up hope in a hopeless future -- including the boy's mother, who kills herself with a gun. At one point, roadside bandits threaten the heroes, gunshots are exchanged, and a man is killed. A gun is also pointed at the boy. More guns are used to threaten people. The man is shot by arrows from a crossbow, which is followed by a bloody, gruesome "first-aid" scene. The man and boy also find a flare gun. Cannibalism is suggested but not shown.
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Several (though not constant) uses of both "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "hell," "damn," "goddamn," and "ass."
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Products & Purchases
Even in a desolate future, a few brand-name products survive. The man and the boy find a last can of Coca-Cola in a vending machine, and in one major scene, they find an underground bunker stocked with food. The boy eats Cheetos and mispronounces their name: "Chee-TOSS." The man and the boy drink Vitamin Water. Some labels can be briefly glimpsed in the background.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In the bunker scene, the man opens a bottle of whisky and drinks. The boy wants to know what it is and wants to taste it, but the man refuses. "It makes you feel funny," he says.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.