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The Road Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Meaningful anti-entertainment Read full review

Other Critics provided by

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

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 67

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    There's enough foreboding in America right now to make sitting through a movie such as The Road seem like one more heavy burden that, frankly, no one needs.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter

    Director John Hillcoat has performed an admirable job of bringing Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel to the screen as an intact and haunting tale, even at the cost of sacrificing color, big scenes and standard Hollywood imagery of post-apocalyptic America.

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  • 80

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Between the two performances there's not a false note. Between the father and son there's an unbreakable bond. Though civilization has ended, love and parental duty shape the course of this fable, which is otherwise as heartwarming as a Beckett play shorn of humor.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    While the film is not as resonant as the novel, it is an honorable adaptation, capturing the essence of the bond between father and son.

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  • 88

    out of 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    The Road evokes the images and the characters of Cormac McCarthy's novel. It is powerful, but for me lacks the same core of emotional feeling.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 15+

Touching but grim futuristic tale won't appeal to kids.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Road (based on the 2007 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Cormac McCarthy) is a relentlessly grim, gray portrait of a future in which an unnamed disaster has wiped most living things from the Earth, food is scarce, and people have resorted to cannibalism. (In other words, not a kid movie!) The main characters are a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his 10-year-old son; their relationship is wonderfully touching and ever hopeful, but the surrounding movie is depressing and sometimes violent, with many depictions of and references to suicide (including the boy's mother), as well as some scenes with gunfire and threats. Though older teens and adults may find it a meaningful, if not exactly entertaining, experience, know that it's not the Mad Max-type action movie that some ads have promised.

  • Families can talk about the unnamed disaster that brought the world to this point. What would life be like after something like that? What could or couldn't you do anymore?
  • Why is the boy more hopeful and trustworthy than his father? What could the boy know or understand that his father doesn't?
  • What made the boy's mother commit suicide? Why did she give up hope when the man and the boy still had hope?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: Overall the movie creates a feeling of hopelessness, with its relentlessly gray world destroyed by the hand of man (though it's never explained exactly what happened). But the man still clings to his responsibility to raise and teach the boy all the things he knows, in the hope that there still might be a future, somehow. Likewise, their continuing journey to the sea is also based on the hope that something will still be there.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: The man is something of a positive role model, since he continues to hope and to plan a future for his boy, no matter how uncertain it may be. But at the same time, he succumbs to frustration and paranoia and refuses to trust anyone. The boy, born after the disaster, turns out to be the movie's real role model. He's open-hearted and wishes to help others, and his hope is purer.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Not a huge quantity of violent scenes, but what's included can be quite disturbing. There's plenty of suicide and suggestions of suicide, with people giving up hope in a hopeless future -- including the boy's mother, who kills herself with a gun. At one point, roadside bandits threaten the heroes, gunshots are exchanged, and a man is killed. A gun is also pointed at the boy. More guns are used to threaten people. The man is shot by arrows from a crossbow, which is followed by a bloody, gruesome "first-aid" scene. The man and boy also find a flare gun. Cannibalism is suggested but not shown.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Not an issue

  • language false3

    Language: Several (though not constant) uses of both "f--k" and "s--t," as well as "hell," "damn," "goddamn," and "ass."

  • consumerism false1

    Consumerism: Even in a desolate future, a few brand-name products survive. The man and the boy find a last can of Coca-Cola in a vending machine, and in one major scene, they find an underground bunker stocked with food. The boy eats Cheetos and mispronounces their name: "Chee-TOSS." The man and the boy drink Vitamin Water. Some labels can be briefly glimpsed in the background.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false1

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: In the bunker scene, the man opens a bottle of whisky and drinks. The boy wants to know what it is and wants to taste it, but the man refuses. "It makes you feel funny," he says.