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Easy Rider Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Someday it was inevitable that a great film would come along, utilizing the motorcycle genre, the same way the great Westerns suddenly made everyone realize they were a legitimate American art form, Easy Rider is the picture.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The New York Times Vincent Canby

    With the exception of Nicholson, its good things are familiar things - the rock score, the lovely, sometimes impressionistic photography by Laszlo Kovacs, the faces of small-town America.

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  • 90

    out of 100


    The film has refurbished the classic romantic gospel of the outcast wanderer.

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  • 90

    out of 100


    Fonda himself has given this a fine production dress, with associate Bert Schneider, and the brilliant lensing, excellent music background ballads, especially Bob Dylan's "Easy Rider," are fine counterpoints to this poetic trip along Southwest America.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Pause for kids 16 & under

Iconic 1969 road trip movie with violence, drugs, sex.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the release of Easy Rider in 1969 marked a significant change in American filmmaking. Never before had a low-budget, offbeat movie made such an impact upon young audiences. Reflecting a chaotic time in a country that was deeply divided in its values, the film's frank treatment of alternative lifestyles, sexual "freedom," and drug and alcohol use (pervasive marijuana smoking, consumption of cocaine and hallucinogens, heavy drinking and drunkenness) struck a deep nerve. The film and its music are still considered classic and unequaled. Mild, infrequent swearing (i.e., "a--hole," "Yankee queers," "goddamn") is included. Sexuality and some nudity (no intercourse) are seen in both idyllic settings and in a frenzied acid trip. Its few violent scenes are extreme, shocking, and bloody. (Spoiler alert: important characters are killed by gunfire and a brutal beating).

  • Families can talk about Easy Rider as an outstanding example of the artistic blending of film and music. How did the music impact your understanding and your enjoyment of the story? How did the music impact your visual experience of the road trip?
  • What do you think Wyatt (Captain America) meant when he said "We blew it," near the end of the movie?
  • Discuss the term "game-changer" when it comes to describing a movie. Find out why this movie was considered a game-changer and broke new ground in filmmaking when it was released in 1969.

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Complex attitudes and points of view are organically integrated into the story, the characters, and the mood of the film. Set in 1969 at the height of some of most chaotic social changes in America, the basic idealism and goodness of Americans are shown to be at risk, as is the concept of "freedom." A repressive establishment is portrayed as wreaking havoc in its attempts to protect the status quo. On the other hand, members of the counter-culture exhibit their own brand of lawlessness and emptiness, fortified by drug use. No easy answers here.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: The film's protagonists are searching the American landscape for freedom, acceptance, and peaceful co-existence with a troubled society. Though compassionate, relatively harmless, and peace-loving, these heroes fund their odyssey with drug deals. Then they flaunt their differences, use sex, marijuana, alcohol, and some hard drugs to heighten their passions and, at the same, numb themselves to life's harsh realities. They're not "role models," but they challenge their audience to think about what they represent, and they pay dearly for their excesses.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Only a few violent scenes, but they're horrific, including a brutal beating, explosions, shotgun murders, and the bloody aftermath of those events.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Four people swim naked in a pond -- shadowy body images are visible, with suggested sexual play. A scene in which the characters are in a hallucinogen-induced state shows two men and two women engaged in sexual activity (not intercourse) -- embracing, undressing, some nudity. Set in 1969, a time when "free love" was at its height, characters are portrayed as having few inhibitions and as attempting to celebrate their sexuality.

  • language false2

    Language: By modern standards, relatively mild language for an R-rated film: "goddamn," "whorehouse," "a--hole," "hell," "Yankee queers." There's a wide shot of three men urinating in a rural roadside setting. A character makes an obscene hand gesture to a troublemaker. In addition, there is lots of bullying, insulting, and name-calling directed at the counter-culture characters who are the film's heroes.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Gasoline stations: 76, Esso, Enco. Coca-Cola, Jim Beam beverages. A character wears a hat with the CAT Diesel Power logo.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Pervasive marijuana smoking; leading characters are stoned throughout the movie -- a veritable celebration of sharing joints and living "high." Cocaine is tested, snorted, and sold in early scenes. A lengthy (4+ minutes) sequence shows the effects of a hallucinogenic drug on four young people; it's harsh, sexual, frightening, and includes disturbing religious images. Alcohol is consumed throughout as well; one character is a confirmed alcoholic who has given up on sobriety.