What 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.
- 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?