A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has no four-letter words or nudity, and there is nothing in the movie that is likely to cause offense or trauma. Still, it is not for most younger kids, who will be bored and restless.
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What's the story?
In this seemingly simple story, 73 year old Alvin Straight (Richard Farnsworth), sets off to visit his estranged brother, after hearing that he has had a stroke. Alvin uses two canes and can't see well enough to drive. So he hitches a trailer to his riding mower and sets off on a 300-mile journey from Iowa to Wisconsin, encountering along the six-week drive a range of people, landscapes, and adventures. On his journey, Alvin meets an engaging assortment of people, including a teen- age runaway, a team of bicyclists, twin repairmen, and a man who spent his career working for John Deere, and is unfailingly treated with kindness and dignity.
Is it any good?
Don't let the G-rating and the Disney label mislead you - this is an adult movie in the old-fashioned sense of the word, meaning that its story and themes will most appeal to adults and some teens. It gets a G rating because it does not have any of the usual triggers for a PG or PG- 13 rating. Thoughtful middle- and high schoolers and adults will find a lot to appreciate and talk about.
Children who watch a lot of television and movies often develop what psychologists call the "mean world" syndrome. Based on what they learn about the adult world from the media, their estimates of the incidence of murder and corruption are distorted way out of proportion to reality. And our cautions about not talking to strangers contribute further to their sense that the world is a dangerous place. This movie is a nice antidote to that. Also, Richard speaks feelingly to people he meets about the importance of the bond between siblings. This is a point that is always worth raising to kids who think that there may never be a day when they will have more to talk to their brothers and sisters about than whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher.
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