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"TALL TALE: THE UNBELIEVABLE ADVENTURES OF PECOS BILL"
(1994) (Patrick Swayze, Nick Stahl) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Mild Minor Moderate Moderate Moderate
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Minor None Mild None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
None Mild Minor Mild Moderate


QUICK TAKE:
Adventure: A boy meets the characters from the tall tales about which his father always talks.
PLOT:
Daniel Hackett (NICK STAHL) is a 12-year-old growing up on a Pleasant Valley farm in 1905. He hates working on the farm owned by his father Jonas (STEPHEN LANG) and tires of his tales of Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan and others. After Jonas is shot by J.P. Stiles (SCOTT GLENN), a greedy land developer who wants their farm, Jonas runs away and falls asleep in a small boat. He wakes up to find himself in Texas where Pecos Bill (PATRICK SWAYZE), the fastest shooting gun in the West, saves him from two thieves. Later they meet Paul Bunyan (OLIVER PLATT) and his blue ox, Babe, as well as John Henry (ROGER AARON BROWN), the man who challenges steam engines in feets of strength and speed. Together the men and Daniel fight off Stiles' attempts at stealing the deed to the farm in what may or may not be a dream.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Younger kids will probably enjoy this adventure story, but teenagers might find it too juvenile for them.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
The reason wasn't available, but we'd guess it was for action related violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • NICK STAHL plays a kid with a bad attitude who gets some life lessons from the tall tale characters.
  • PATRICK SWAYZE plays a caricature of a wild west gunman, a shootin', drinkin', spitin' man.
  • SCOTT GLENN plays a greedy and ruthless developer who calls for Daniel's death if that's what it takes to get the deed to the farm.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 5 out of 10
    Kids will probably enjoy this adventure flick that bears some resemblance to a mix of "A Christmas Carol" to the "Young Indiana Jones" TV series from several years ago. While Daniel isn't an active protagonist and instead lets things just happen to him, kids probably won't care. They'll be entertained by all of the action and adventure that occurs on screen and adults shouldn't be too bored by the film and might just enjoy certain parts of it. The acting's passable and the action scenes, while certainly not original, do keep the pace and tone of the film moving along at a lively clip. While kids will probably give this film a higher rating than will their adults, we think it's just so-so as entertainment and thus give it a 5 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    This film contains the stereotypical western adventure movie material. There's plenty of gun shooting, some drinking of whiskey and beer, a barroom brawl and the obligatory jail break. While the use of guns is played out in the "Old West" style and in an adventurous fashion, those concerned with the use of guns or with kids getting the wrong idea about guns should be cautioned. Other than that, there's the usual Western adventure and peril. If your kids want to see this, we suggest you read the category listings to determine if this film is appropriate for your family.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • People (including Pecos, Paul, and John Henry) drink beer and whiskey in a saloon.
  • Stiles and others drink wine with dinner.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • Stiles picks up a shot off trigger finger, but it's not bloody.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Daniel tells his dad that he hates the farm and wishes that he'd sell it.
  • Stiles will do anything to get the Hackett land deed and tells others to find Daniel and "if he gives you any trouble, kill him." Later he gives the command for a train to run Daniel over.
  • Two bandits rob Daniel and then plan to kill him.
  • Daniel uses Babe the blue ox to break the others out of jail and Pecos asks him how it feels to be on the wrong side of the law.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Stiles and others come after Jonas to get his farm deed during a thunderstorm.
  • Men try to grab Daniel, but Pecos fights them off. Daniel, however, falls through a trap door and gets stuck on a log going through a saw mill. He tries to free himself as the log moves closer and closer to the large spinning blade.
  • More men chase Daniel and the others must fight them off. Daniel then climbs up a water tower and Stiles follows him until both are edging their way around the narrow platform.
  • Daniel falls under the front of a train after Stiles gives the order to run him over.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Pistols/Rifles: Used by both the good and bad guys throughout the movie. See "Violence" for details.
  • Pistols: Used by Pecos to stop a sawmill blade from cutting Daniel.
  • Knife: Used by Stiles to stab at Daniel and is then thrown at Paul Bunyan.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • At the end of the spoken motto of the West ("Respect the land, defend the defenseless, and don't spit in front of women and children"), everyone spits off to the side, including Daniel.
  • Daniel calls an older man, "geezer."
  • Phrases: "You steaming pile of buffalo pucky," "Suckers," "Fool," and "Shut up."
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • There's a mild amount of suspenseful music and a great deal more of the adventurous variety.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • There are 3 hells, 1 "ass" word and 1 damn used as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • None.
  • SMOKING
  • Stiles and the other labor bosses are seen smoking.
  • People smoke while watching John Henry compete against the steam driven drill.
  • People smoke in a saloon and Pecos smokes a cigar.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Jonas is mad at Daniel for neglecting his chores at the beginning of the movie.
  • Daniel and his mother worry about the wounded Jonas.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The rape of the land, and the endless march of technology and modernization.
  • Standing up for what you believe in.
  • John Henry tells Daniel that his father was sold (they were slaves) before he had a chance to tell him he loved him.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Jonas tells Daniel that Pecos Bill is known for shooting off the trigger fingers of bandits. Later, we see Pecos do just that, first to two bandits, and later to many people chasing after Daniel.
  • Jonas nearly shoots Daniel in town when the boy surprises him. He grabs Daniel, throws him down onto some hay, and then hides the deed with the boy. Daniel runs off and Jonas then raises his rifle, ready for anything, but a pistol to his head ends the scene.
  • Jonas is shot as he races to get Stiles after he's threatened Daniel.
  • Two bandits hold their guns on Daniel and rob him. They then debate over which of them will kill the boy, and one of them gets ready to, but Pecos Bill shoots off his trigger finger. Later he shoots his pistols into the air to scare off the two bandits.
  • Construction foremen are occasionally seen whipping their workers, and Daniel imagines seeing his father as a worker being whipped.
  • A man walks up and punches Pecos who then punches him back. More men join in and a big brawl ensues. However, Pecos fights all of them off with punches, by throwing them to the ground, and by hitting them with large poles.
  • Men shoot at Pecos and Daniel as they ride out of the town.
  • In a saloon, a man throws a punch at Pecos and then hits him on the head with a whiskey bottle. More fighting than ensues with people being punched through the saloon windows. Calamity Jane then enters, and shoots her six shooters, stopping the brawl. She blasts several mugs and shoots a cigar from Peco's mouth. She then repeatedly fires her guns, hitting the wall all around Pecos, barely missing him.
  • Daniel uses Babe the blue ox to yank a wall from the jail to free the other men.
  • Paul Bunyan cuts down a pole to fall in front of men chasing after Daniel on motorcycles. They hit the pole and fly through the air. He then hits others with a smaller pole to fight them off.
  • More men chase Daniel and the others must fight them off. Daniel climbs a water tower and Stiles follows him until both are edging their way around the narrow platform. Stiles pulls out his knife and stabs it at Daniel who falls from the platform (but is okay). He then throws the knife at Paul Bunyan.
  • John Henry and Paul Bunyan begin pushing each other (after suffering from heat exhaustion in the desert), but it ends as soon as it began.
  • The men come to Daniel's rescue, but are encountered by many of Stiles workers who hold their guns on them. Pecos then shoots off the trigger fingers of all those with the guns (nothing graphic).
  • Stiles shoots at Daniel before being crushed in the collapse of a railroad tunnel.



  • Reviewed January 3, 1997

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