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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Walking Out is a father-son survival drama that includes hunting scenes, wintry mountain-trek peril, and the bloody aftermath of injuries (bear mauling, a rifle wound). Animals are killed, and guns are used. There's also brief strong language, including "s--t" and "goddamn," and references to divorce. Some parts of the story might be too intense for younger kids, but it's not particularly graphic. The characters aren't starving or being hunted themselves; it's more a race against time and using their wits. The performances are strong, especially by Matt Bomer as the dad.
What's the story?
In WALKING OUT, an estranged father named Cal (Matt Bomer) and his teen son, David (Josh Wiggins), go on a hunting trip in the mountainous Montana winter wilderness. The tough, wilderness-expert Cal and the more modern, citified David struggle to bond. When a violent encounter turns their trip into a voyage of survival, they have to dig deep to make it out alive.
Is it any good?
This low-key, serious drama is less about desperate thrills than digging deep to find inner strength. Based on a highly regarded short story by David Quammen, Walking Out is part father-son drama, part coming-of-age tale, part survival adventure. Its hazardous mountain trek feels more immediate than, say, the one in The Mountain Between Us, but it's no rollercoaster adventure, either. Rather, the film is appropriately intimate and intense.
As the tough outdoorsman father, Bomer is convincing. Cal is tough on David when the boy visits for a carefully planned moose hunt. The reason for Cal's divorce from David's mom is never detailed, but Cal's coldness and how set he is in his ways speak volumes. As David, Wiggins has the opportunity to develop from a complaining teen into a focused, determined young man. The culture of hunting for meat is taken seriously, with disdain shown for other sport killing. The movie's specificity, the detail of the writing, and the environment that the adapter-director brothers (Alex and Andrew J. Smith) create generate a natural intensity. That said, Walking Out isn't on the same level of gritty desperation as, say, Alive or The Revenant; the sparse score clues us into the film's quiet calm. There's peril, but this experience is really about the main characters getting to know their fathers, each other, and themselves.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Walking Out compares to other survival movies. Does this one feel more or less real? If you've also seen The Mountain Between Us and/or The Revenant, which seemed most or least gritty? Realistic?
Both main characters take personal journeys. Can you describe how they changed or what they learned? How do they demonstrate courage, perseverance, and self-control? Why are those important character strengths?
Were any parts of the movie scary to you? Why? Do movies have to be gory or bloody to be scary?
Walking Out gives very little background information, despite all its flashback scenes. Can you fill in the blanks it leaves? For instance, why do you think the parents got divorced? What do you think happened on previous father-son hunting trips? What do you think of that storytelling choice, to let the viewer fill in the blanks?
- In theaters: October 6, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: February 6, 2018
- Cast: Matt Bomer, Josh Wiggins, Bill Pullman
- Directors: Alex Smith, Andrew J. Smith
- Studio: IFC Films
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Self-control
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: bloody injury images, some thematic elements and brief strong language
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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