True Grit Movie Poster Image

True Grit

Coen brothers tackle classic Western with wit and brutality.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Western
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 110 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie's message is that justice can be served in the right hands. Also, that you shouldn't write off a person unless you've truly given him a chance. In this case, Rooster Cogburn proves to be a good bet.

Positive role models

Mattie Ross is a tough, no-nonsense teenager, and she holds her own among both outlaws and lawmen. Rooster Cogburn might have a very rough exterior, but, when necessary, he's able to tap into a cache of empathy. And LeBeouf is principled, even if his job involves possibly killing (usually villains). That said, there are merciless types here, too.


Three men are hanged in a public square while a crowd watches; later, another man’s body is shown hanging from a tree (the corpse is cut down and falls heavily to the ground). In one brutal scene, a man's fingers are cut off with a knife and another man is shot in the head at very close range. Lots and lots of additional gunfights, some of which are bloody; slain bodies are on full display. A man is rough with a teenage girl. Lots of peril; some falls and near-falls.


In one brief scene, a man makes an iffy comment to a teenage girl.


Infrequent use of words like “son of a bitch,” “damn,” "goddamn," and “hell.”

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A U.S. marshal is almost always soused, even when he’s gunslinging.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the Coen brothers' adaptation of Charles Portis’ novel -- which also inspired the 1969 John Wayne classic -- is impressive and forceful, but it's also full of brutal (and sometimes bloody) gunfight sequences and other violent moments that aren’t appropriate for younger viewers, as well as some language and drinking (one character is perpetually soused). That said, mature teens are likely to feel a kinship with the lead character, 14-year-old Mattie Ross, who faces challenges that would break many adults. They might even learn from her adventure -- and not small-potatoes lessons, either, but ones dealing with loyalty, courage, and determination.

What's the story?

Based on Charles Portis’ novel -- which also inspired the John Wayne movie of the same name -- TRUE GRIT is narrated by Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld), whom viewers meet when she’s 14. Her father has died at the hands of the “coward” Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), and she needs someone to bring Chaney back, dead or alive. Her first choice is one-eyed U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges), who’s as good at downing liquor as he is at marshaling. Joining them is Texas Ranger LeBeouf (Matt Damon), who’s heavy on patter and earnestness -- making for an unusual (and potent) trio.

Is it any good?


In this Western filled with gorgeous landscapes and action-packed shootouts, the Coen brothers display a vision of a Wild West that is indeed wild -- but also honorable. They went back to Portis’ original text and have transformed it into a work of art that stands on its own, apart and different from the 1969 adaptation. Laconic stretches explode with violence and relax with wit and humor on a stage peopled with extraordinary actors, with Bridges as the master. It’s a true Western, made for both the genre’s connoisseurs and newcomers.

The biggest revelation, besides how hokey-yet-winning Damon can be, is Steinfeld. Her role requires the ability to stand up against two award-winning actors and portray a teen who tackles adult responsibilities fully while both grieving and avenging the loss of a parent -- true grit, in other words -- and she executes perfectly. From start to finish, True Grit plays as it should, and well.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's characters. Are they role models? Are they intended to be? Who's the most admirable character here? The least?

  • Do you think Mattie is a realistic teen character? For the time period, was she acting her age?

  • How does this film adhere to (or not) the Western genre’s basic characteristics? How does it compare to other Coen brothers movies?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 22, 2010
DVD/Streaming release date:June 7, 2011
Cast:Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Josh Brolin, Matt Damon
Directors:Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Run time:110 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:intense sequences of western violence including disturbing images

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Parent of a 10, 12, and 13 year old Written bySnout-Dog January 10, 2011

Bad dreams await those under 13

Before taking my 12 and 13 year-old sons and my 10 3/4 year old daughter to this movie, I checked CSM as I always do. I was surprised to see them rate 15+, but was relieved at the adult reviews showing 10-11+. I wish I had trusted the CSM rating. This was very inappropriate for my daughter, aged 10. The problem was not the violence necessarily, but the overall scariness. There were some absolutely terrifying parts to a girl this age. She struggled through this movie, big time! She spent a lot of time with her face in her hands or turned away from the screen. My hand and arm are full of her fingernail marks from clinching me tightly, and I had to deal with resulting bad dreams all that night. And let me reassure you that this girl is no shrinking violet. I think CSM needs a "Scary" category. I am also disappointed that no one mentioned the graphic chopping off of fingers, plunging knives into chests, corpses with snakes nested in the torsos, the running to exhaustion and then execution of the girl's horse, the near-death of the girl, the amputation of her arm, the smashing of skulls with large rocks, the beating of the 14 y/o girl with a switch, and standing on her face with one boot while threatening to blow her head off. It is too bad, really, because much of the rest of the movie was worthwhile especially the demonstration of a smart, capable young woman.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great role models
Adult Written byoobynooby1 December 18, 2010

John Wayne movie

This review is for the original John Wayne version because they don't have it here. If you want to watch this version, watch the original first. It will make this one more enjoyable. I will also be watching this movie when it comes out, so check back later to find out more about it. In the meantime, watch the original. John Wayne is the bomb!
Teen, 13 years old Written byMusicManShades April 12, 2011

Great adapted western from the John Wayne classic

First, if you want to see this up front, this movie is VIOLENT. It's realistic, some of it is a little toned-down, but most of it is "true grit" western violence. Some iffy parts would include the scene where a father cuts his son's fingers off and stabs him, hence the bad role models sticker. There's some bad language in many of the scenes as well. Rooster Cogburn is drunk a lot. However, if you watch the original True Grit with John Wayne, it's gritty with violence as well, and includes the finger cut-off scene. So the Coen Brothers didn't over-do that. My MPAA rating: PG-13 for realistic violence throughout, language, and alcohol and tobacco use
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages