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Movie Review: Alabama Moon

Alabama Moon
(Released 2011)

Eleven-year-old Moon Blake has spent most of his life hiding out in the forests of Alabama with his father, an anti-government radical who clings to conspiracy theories and trusts no one. Moon's life suddenly changes when the land is sold and his father dies. 
Knowing only what he learned from his father, Moon decides to follow his last instructions; make your way to Alaska where "people could still make a living off trapping." In the path of civilization, Moon quickly lands himself in a reform school where he meets the mean-spirited Constable Sanders and learns what friendship is all about. 
Determined to get to Alaska, he and his new friends escape from the school outwitting Constable Sanders each step of the way. "Alabama Moon" is a classic kid's film (based on the novel by Watt Key), complete with adventure and survival that most kids only dream about.
(Movie Rating & Parental Info. from

What parents need to know:

Parents need to know that this family adventure movie, based on a bestselling 2006 novel by Watt Key, features some intense scenes of violence, including the death of a parent, and a shot of a broken leg with protruding bone and some gore. A second character also dies. There are knives and guns on view (no shots fired), as well as some threats and fighting. The movie features some gateway language ("d--n" and "h--l") and some offscreen kissing between teens. The 11-year-old hero makes some mistakes, but eventually learns some good lessons: he learns to trust others rather than hiding away.

Positive messages: The main character engages in some bad (and illegal) behavior, but there are consequences for his actions, and it's all in an attempt to undo his father's wrongheaded teachings: rather than living alone, hiding in the woods, it's more fulfilling to trust and love others. 
Positive role models: The main character, Moon, is resourceful and kindhearted. Despite being raised in the woods and taught to mistrust others, he's quick to sympathize and care about the people he meets. However, he is learning, and he makes several dangerous and unlawful mistakes along the way. The lawyer character (played by John Goodman) is also big-hearted and helpful toward a kid he doesn't even know. 
Violence: The movie begins with its most intense sequence: an 11-year-old boy buries the body of his dead father. In flashback, we see the father breaking his leg while crossing a fast-moving river. The broken, protruding bone and some gore are visible in one shot. A supporting character also dies (offscreen). Otherwise, the movie features knives and guns (no shots fired), plus threats and shouting, and some manhandling. There's also a brief fight between the boy hero and a slightly older bully. (The hero punches the bully in his crotch.) 
Sex: In one scene, an older girl kisses the 11-year-old hero offscreen, and he emerges visibly shaken. 
Language: "D--n" and "h--l" are heard at least twice each (from adults). Otherwise, we hear things like "crap," "shoot," and "shut up" from the kids. 
Drinking, drugs, & smoking: One boy apparently requires various medical "pills" each day, though it's not clear what these pills are or what they do.

Talk to your kids
  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Was it necessary to show the father's gory broken leg? Was it necessary for two characters to die? How does the hero react to, or learn from, these events?
  • At what point does Moon start to realize that his father's lessons may have been a bit wrongheaded? What parts of his father's teachings come in handy?
  • How does Moon handle the bully, and what happens afterward? is the bully scary? How would this attempt work in real life?
I liked this movie, however, I think as a parent you will need to be sure to review the rating information above to see if you feel it appropriate for your family and children.  It does deal with some issues that could definitely be misleading or confusing to small children, and the presence of profanity, while not as bad as many movies presently made, is still disappointing to say the least.  
Their are serious issues mixed in with this seemingly light-hearted adventure, such as the serious injury and death a parent, paranoid behavior, death of a childhood friend, child abandonment, and constant law breaking.
I believe that some of the issues regarding the boys' disobedience to authority are glorified under the idea that they are brave and adventurous, but these are things that may be very good for discussing with your child afterwards.

Overall I enjoyed the movie, however I would not recommend it for younger children at all and would suggest watching it and discussing with your older children.
Happy Movie Watching,

1 comment:

  1. This is a really good synopsis of this movie. You make it so easy to get to the heart of a film. The structured framework of your layout, and the writing style make it easy to read, and evaluate the movie review. I look forward to reading more reviews. Good job!


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