Cowboys and Aliens parents guide

Cowboys and Aliens Parent Guide

While the setting may be different, the script doesn't offer much that we haven't seen in this genre before including rather gruesome-looking extraterrestrials.

Overall C

It appears visitors from other worlds have been abducting humans for longer than we might have thought. Set in 1873, Cowboys and Aliens chronicles the close encounters of a Wild West rancher (Harrison Ford) and a cowboy who can't remember the past (Daniel Craig). (Olivia Wilde plays the love interest.) Hey-- Don't laugh! This script takes itself very seriously.

Release date July 29, 2011

Violence D
Sexual Content B-
Profanity C-
Substance Use C

Why is Cowboys and Aliens rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Cowboys and Aliens PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.

Run Time: 118 minutes

Official Movie Site

Parent Movie Review

During his film career, Harrison Ford has fought computer hackers, Nazi soldiers, hijackers, Soviet agents, the evil Darth Vader and pharmaceutical red tape. Now, late into his sixties, he is ready to take on aliens.

Ford plays Woodrow Dolarhyde, a wealthy, cantankerous cattle owner from the 1800’s, who spends as much time bailing his son Percy (Paul Dano) out of trouble as he does herding cows. After Percy is arrested for shooting a government agent, Woodrow rides into town with his hired hands to force the sheriff (Keith Carradine) into setting the wayward boy free. Unfortunately, Percy is ready for transport to federal court and handcuffed to Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), a man who recently woke up with a strange metal band on his arm and no memory of the lengthy criminal record he has amassed.

The plot (minus the strange bracelet that emits blinking lights and strange sounds) sets up the perfect Western conflict between the local law enforcer and the rancher who thinks he is above the rules everyone else has to live by. However, that’s only half the story. As the bickering begins between the two strong-willed men, lights appear on the horizon and soon the dusty street is under attack from alien ships that lasso people and haul them off to an undisclosed location. (In the midst of the mayhem, Jake frees himself from Percy by crushing all the bones in the boy’s hand so he can remove the shackles.)

In true cowboy fashion, the locals form a posse to pursue the invaders, relying on the skills of Woodrow’s native tracker (Adam Beach) to help them follow the massive footprints that lead out of town. Jake joins the group though he chooses to remain aloof as much as possible.

It’s one thing to watch a US Marine platoon blast aliens with high-powered artillery in Battle: Los Angeles. But fending off advanced intelligences with pistols and lever-action rifles seems ridiculous. Fortunately the local Indian tribe arrives with their spears and arrows to aid in the effort. Yet despite the archaic implements of war, massive explosions, bloody injuries and corpses are abundant. As well, the men frequently resort to the most basic of weapons—their fists—to inflict injury and death.

While the setting may be different, the script doesn’t offer much that we haven’t seen in this genre before including rather gruesome-looking extraterrestrials. What proves more interesting to watch is the handing over of the reins from one generation of action hero actor to the next. In the original Indiana Jones trilogy, Ford played the agile young adventurer opposite aging James Bond actor Sean Connery. In this film, a gingerly moving Ford surrenders the rough and tumble scenes to the grim and serious star of Casino Royale.

Whether these two powerhouse Hollywood actors will be enough to help this predictable alien invasion adventure earn gold at the box office will have to be seen. In the meantime, viewers who want action without a lot of gore may have to hunt for other entertainment options than these Cowboys and Aliens have to offer.

Directed by Jon Favreau . Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde. Running time: 118 minutes. Theatrical release July 29, 2011. Updated

Cowboys and Aliens
Rating & Content Info

Why is Cowboys and Aliens rated PG-13? Cowboys and Aliens is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.

Violence: Characters frequently engage in fist and gunfights, which often result in bloody injuries or death. Characters are shot at close range with bullets and arrows, impaled, clubbed, bitten, sliced open and disintegrated. A man’s face is splattered with blood after he beats a man to death. A man performs surgery on a patient. A young adult shoots randomly at people and property and forces people to hand over money. Characters are ambushed, abducted and killed by aliens. Frequent explosions occur. A man is tortured and then dragged by a horse. A body is burned in a fire. A man breaks another character’s hand and later ambushes and threatens a woman. A character talks about slicing a man’s throat. One man knocks out the tooth of another. A character is kicked in the groin. A character sets off an explosion causing personal death. Dead bodies are frequently shown. Grotesque characters and some moments of peril are also included.

Sexual Content: A woman watches a shirtless man from the shadows. Couples kiss. A woman’s bare shoulders and back are seen in a nonsexual context. A man thinks a woman is a prostitute looking for work.

Language: The script contains frequent profanities and cursing, as well as some scatological slang and racial slurs. Crude anatomical terms and infrequent suggestive innuendo are also present.

Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters drink often. One man is intoxicated on the job. Characters—including the protagonist—smoke or use chewing tobacco.

Other: Some brief depictions of defecation and urination are shown.

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More parents' guide for Cowboys and Aliens after the break...

Cowboys and Aliens Parents' Guide

Mixing genres isn’t uncommon. Romantic comedies (When In Rome), horror thrillers (The Village), dramatic comedies (Everybody’s Fine) fantasy romance (Twilight) and erotic thrillers (Chloe) all combine different genres. Even sci-fi action films (Wolverine) have been around for a while. But do you think the western genre works with sci-fi? Why or why not?

Many of the characters in this movie lose their memories of their past lives, at least temporarily. What are the challenges they face because of that? What difficulties does the memory loss pose for their loved ones?

Hollywood seems to be obsessed with youth. How does that impact aging actors? Do you think it is easy to be an older man or older woman in the film business? What kind of roles are most often available to seasoned performers?

Home Video

The most recent home video release of Cowboys and Aliens movie is December 6, 2011. Here are some details…

Home Video Notes: Cowboys and aliens

Release Date: 6 December 2011

Cowboys and Aliens releases to home video on December 6, 2011. The Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy package includes:

- Extended Cut (17 Additional Minutes)

- Igniting the Sky: The Making of Cowboys and Aliens

- Finding the Story

- The Scope of the Spectacle

- Outer-space Icon

- Audio Commentary with Director Jon Favreau.

- A Call to Action

- Absolution

- Conversations with Jon Favreau

- Universal’s Second Screen

- BD-Live

- pocketBlu

Related home video titles:

The first Western film was the silent 1903 movie The Great Train Robbery. Since then the genre has enjoyed different periods of popularity. Some productions from the past include 3:10 to Yuma, American Outlaws, All the Pretty Horses, The Alamo, Mark of Zorro and The Man from Snowy River. The genre resurged recently with the Oscar nominated remake of True Grit.

Jon Favreau is also the director of Iron Man and Iron Man 2. Daniel Craig plays another character with a license to kill in Casino Royal and Quantum of Solace. And Harrison Ford is well known as Han Solo, space cowboy of the Star Wars Franchise (A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi).