Based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Cormac McCarthy, THE ROAD is a heartfelt apocalyptic drama about a father and his son trying to survive in a dying world fraught with danger. It ends on an uplifting note of hope and trust, but it is an intense movie with strong violence and strong foul language.
The movie opens with the father and son encountering a group of marauding men. The father has to shoot one of the men dead to escape the others.
As they make their way south to the East Coast, the father and son forage for food, encounter a starving old man, and barely escape a group of cannibals. The father thinks and dreams about the wife who left them and died because she lost all hope. Hope and love, however, spur the father and son onward, even though the father is slowly dying himself.
Two excellent performances by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee as the father and son propel this movie. Robert Duvall adds a gentle touch as the old man who has lost his faith in God but regrets it even so. The movie’s biggest misstep is the flashback scenes with Charlize Theron as the wife. Theron is one of the most over-rated actresses working today, and she gives another unappealing, confusing performance here. Unlike the scenes between the father and the son, the scenes between the father and the wife are not very convincing or interesting. There is no chemistry between Theron and Mortensen. The movie could do without the scenes between them, but it overcomes this problem as it reveals the positive things that keep the father and son going.
There are some bleak moments in THE ROAD, but the movie has a redemptive, moral heart that leaves viewers with a quietly powerful, uplifting ending. The father has instilled hope, goodness, love, and faith in the future into his son, which helps the boy survive. In fact, sometimes the boy has to remind the father not to lose his own humanity. Thus, despite the bleak, tragic circumstances underlying its story, THE ROAD encourages viewers to hold onto their own humanity and goodness, no matter the circumstances surrounding them. In fact, it makes clear that the wife does not survive because she has lost these things, but the father and son survive because they do. They also survive because the father instills in his son the desire to be one of the “good guys,” to keep on trying, to treat others well, and not to become an inhuman animal like many of the people they meet along the road.
THE ROAD contains some positive references to God. In one scene, the father and son take refuge in a gutted-out Christian church. These references could have been increased or developed better, but, combined with the positive relationship between the father and the son, they do give the movie a light Christian worldview with strong moral elements. They also make THE ROAD one of the better movies of the Christmas season.
Of course, the filmmakers didn’t need to include the strong foul language that sometimes occurs. There are also some shots of blood and body parts during the scenes involving the people who have descended into cannibalism. These shots are not extremely graphic like one of today’s horror movies, but they are intense and disturbing nevertheless. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for THE ROAD (see our CONTENT section above for further details).
Watching an apocalyptic movie with dark moments like this can often be a chore, but, in the end, THE ROAD, helped by its source material, the book by Cormac McCarthy, turns that experience into a deeply poignant, inspiring one.
It should be noted that, though many scientists believe that the earth has undergone several phases of massive, catastrophic extinctions, they also teach that the earth has rebounded from those worldwide disasters and life has sprung anew. Of course, the Bible depicts a massive catastrophe and rebirth in the story of Noah, which ends with a Rainbow of Hope and a New Covenant between Man and God. The same thing happens in the Book of Revelation with the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, who brings eternal punishment and destruction to evildoers (Rev. 21:8) but who creates “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1) for those who remain faithful to Him.
(C, BB, Ab, LL, VV, N, A, D, M) Light Christian, redemptive worldview with strong moral elements, including a positive relationship between a father and his son, a couple positive references to God, and protagonists take refuge in a church, but some doubts are briefly expressed about God and what He’s doing because the Earth is suddenly dying and people are starving; 16 obscenities (including some “f” words), five GDs, two light profanities, and man urinates against a tree; strong intense violence includes marauding villain shot in head, bloody references to cannibalism, cannibal group has imprisoned emaciated people in cellar, cannibal group chases father and son, protagonist shot with arrow, and he shoots a flare into window from where arrow came and shortly thereafter viewers see small flaming wound in dying man’s stomach from flare; no sex scenes; rear and upper male nudity in about four three scenes, but not sexual, including man forces a thief to take off his clothes and abandons him to the elements, but later returns the clothes; brief alcohol use; no smoking; and, desperate and/or evil men steal from other people, adult hero sins two or three times but his son (instilled with the father’s moral lessons and the desire to be one of the “good guys”) pulls him back, father says son is like a god to him but he appears to mean that in a figurative way when an elderly man calls the son “an angel,” and confusing moment that does not completely make sense where father says about his son, “If he is not the word of God, then God never spoke.”
THE ROAD is a heartfelt apocalyptic drama about a father and his son trying to survive in a dying world fraught with danger. The movie opens with the father and son encountering a group of marauding men. The father has to shoot one man dead to escape the others. As they make their way south to the East Coast, the father and son forage for food, encounter a starving old man, and barely escape a group of cannibals. The father thinks and dreams about the wife who left them and died because she lost all hope. Hope and love, however, spur the father and son onward, even though the father is slowly dying himself.
There are some bleak moments in THE ROAD, but the movie has a redemptive heart that leaves viewers with a quietly uplifting ending. The father has instilled hope, love, goodness, and faith in the future into his son, which helps the boy survive. Thus, despite its bleak, tragic moments, THE ROAD encourages viewers to hold onto their own humanity and goodness. It contians some strong foul language and intense scenes involving violence, however, so extreme caution is warranted.