[Screen It]


(1999) (Tobey Maguire, Skeet Ulrich) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
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Minor None Mild None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
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Drama: Pro-Confederate young men become guerilla fighters against Union forces in the Midwest during the Civil War.
Itís 1862 and the pro-Confederate Bushwhackers are engaging in guerilla warfare along the Kansas/Missouri border against Union forces. Jack Bull Chiles (SKEET ULRICH) and Jake Roedel (TOBEY MAGUIRE) are childhood friends who support the Bushwhackers, despite Jake being a German immigrant whose father is decidedly pro-Union.

Nonetheless, after Jayhawkers murder Chilesí father, the two young men join a band of such guerilla fighters. Led by Black John (JAMES CAVIEZEL), Roedel and Chiles, along with fellow Bushwhackers Pitt Mackeson (JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS), Turner Rawls (MATTHEW FABER), George Clyde (SIMON BAKER) and his former slave, Daniel Holt (JEFFREY WRIGHT), set out to disrupt the Union activities and consequently get into several lethal encounters with them.

As winter sets in, the Bushwhackers disband into smaller groups, with Roedel, Chiles, George and Holt setting up a primitive camp on the outskirts of property owned by Mr. Evans (ZACH GRENIER). There, and only when there are no signs of feds in the area, does Brownís widowed daughter-in-law, Sue Lee Shelley (JEWEL), bring food to the men. While George goes off to stay with a lady friend of his, Chiles and Sue Lee begin a brief romance.

Yet with the arrival of spring and more fighting that whittles down their numbers, the Bushwhackers continue on their quest to insure the freedom of their way of life. After both Roedel and Holtís subsequent injuries lay them up at the home of Orton Brown (TOM WILKINSON), the men must determine their stake in the war while dealing not only with Sue Lee whom they earlier dropped off there, but as well as with Mackeson who has a personal vendetta against Roedel for earlier preventing more war-related atrocities.

Those who are fans of Maguire, Ulrich or singer-turned actress Jewel may want to see it, as might those who are into Civil War related productions, but itís unlikely that many kids will want to see this picture.
For graphic war violence.
  • TOBEY MAGUIRE plays a young German immigrant who fights with his anti-Union friends despite his fatherís alliances and beliefs. While initially not trusting and being derogatory toward Holt for being a black man, he later becomes his friend.
  • SKEET ULRICH plays one of the Bushwhackers who kills many people during Civil War conflicts and later has sex with Sue Lee.
  • JEWEL plays a young widow who cares for several of the Bushwhackers hidden out near her home and eventually has sex with Chiles, resulting in the birth of her baby sometime later.
  • JEFFREY WRIGHT plays a former slave who continues to fight alongside his former master and proves to be a good friend and comrade to his fellow fighters.
  • SIMON BAKER plays one of the more free spirited of the fighters, a man who supports his freed slave, enjoys a smoke and occasionally uses some profanity.
  • JONATHAN RHYS MEYERS plays a mean-spirited Bushwhacker who seems to enjoy killing and pillaging and sets a personal vendetta on Roedel.


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.

    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).

    Hereís a brief look at the content found in this R-rated drama. Being a depiction of the Civil War, there are several battle/fighting sequences where many people are wounded or killed, occasionally with bloody and/or gory results. Some of those scenes may be unsettling or suspenseful to viewers, and they obviously include bad attitudes of both parties toward each other. In addition, some of the deaths result in brief, tense family scenes for the survivors.

    Profanity consists of at least 5 "s" words, while a few other profanities and colorful phrases are also spoken. Some sexually related activity is seen, although most of the activity is implied (with one encounter resulting in a pregnancy) and we donít see any related nudity or movement. A woman is briefly seen breastfeeding, however, and a young man stares at her chest while she does so.

    Beyond that, thereís a moderate amount of drinking while some smoking also occurs. Should you still be concerned about the filmís appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to take a closer look at the more detailed content listings.

  • Some men drink shots of liquor on the porch of a rural market.
  • Chiles drinks from a bottle, as does Roedel.
  • Some men drink from bottles.
  • Roedel and others drink at a campsite.
  • Chiles drinks from a flask.
  • Evans pours drinks for himself, Roedel and Chiles and then later has more.
  • In a letter that Roedel reads, the writer comments on the beer being free and them drinking it.
  • Holt drinks from a flask.
  • Chiles and Roedel drink.
  • Roedel invites Holt to join him and others for some whiskey.
  • George drinks from a flask.
  • People have wine at a small wedding.
  • Roedel and Holt drink from a flask.
  • A man is shot and blood squirts out and more people who are shot have bloody wounds. The wife of a murdered man has blood on her shawl.
  • Blood squirts out as a man is shot in the head. More people who are wounded or killed during this next gun battle are bloody, including Roedel who has part of his pinkie shot off.
  • A manís mouth is bloody after a horse rolls over on top of him.
  • Making fun of Chiles offering his bacon to Holt, George asks Roedel if he wants to have his. After Roedel agrees, George jokes by saying, "Iíll sh*t it out" the next morning and that he can have it then.
  • A manís arm is very bloody after heís been shot. After some time and to save the man, Roedel and the others have to amputate the arm with a hacksaw and we see the man struggling against their actions (but we donít see the actual amputation).
  • Some men playing poker, whoíve run out of money, put some scalps into the pot.
  • As people are shot in another attack, blood squirts out and we later see many bodies being piled up on the streets.
  • People shot in another battle are bloody - sometimes quite graphically.
  • Depending on oneís view of the opposing sides of the Civil War, either or both sides have bad attitudes toward the other, with a great deal of killing and pillaging/destruction involved.
  • Some characters refer to Abraham Lincoln as "a black Republican."
  • Several characters (including Roedel) refer to Holt, whoís a former slave, as a "nigger." Roedel comments on Holtís carrying of a gun making him nervous and Sue Lee later wonders why Holt is allowed inside the white menís winter encampment. After they get to know him, however, most everyone changes their minds and attitudes toward Holt.
  • Pitt has both toward nearly everyone, but especially Roedel and threatens to kill him.
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers.
  • Just before another round of shootings, a man sneaks up on Roedel and holds his rifle to his head.
  • A scene where the guys have to amputate a manís arm (after first cauterizing the wound with a hot knife) may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers (we donít see the actual sawing, but do hear the screams and see the men trying to hold down their "patient").
  • Roedel, Holt and Sue Lee have a tense encounter with Pitt and another man that ends up with the former group holding their guns on the latter, but nothing ultimately happens.
  • Rifles/Handguns: Used to threaten, wound, or kill many people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Knife: Used to cauterize a wound after being heated.
  • Phrases: "Sack of sh*t," "No sh*t," "Nigger" (said by white men toward or about black men), "Hell fire," "Shut up" and "Go to hell."
  • None.
  • A mild amount of such music - played in an adventurous fashion - occurs in the film.
  • None.
  • At least 5 "s" words, 7 damns, 7 hells, 1 S.O.B., 1 ass and 2 uses of "G-damn" are used as exclamations.
  • After Chiles playfully calls Sue Lee a mule, she turns around and shows her heavily clothed butt to him, asking if that looks like the rear end of an animal that goes "hee-haw" in the night. He says that it could and the two then end up making out (and only stop when Roedel complains that theyíre sitting right there with them).
  • Later, Chiles asks Roedel and Holt for some privacy when Sue Lee arrives. When she does, they vacate the premises with Chiles asking for an hour of privacy. Upon hearing gunfire, however, they return and find her with her hair down and the two pulling on their clothes. While we donít see any nudity or activity, they had sex since sheís later pregnant from this encounter.
  • Sue Lee shows some cleavage.
  • As Sue Lee prepares to breastfeed, we see her undoing her top and starting to pull out her breast (of which we see the top as she breastfeeds). As this occurs, Sue Lee catches Roedel starring at her breasts.
  • Essentially forced to be married, Sue Lee helps Roedel undress on their wedding night, looks down at his crotch and says, "Hmmm," and then asks if heís a virgin. He replies that heís "seen plenty," but she then asks if heís ever been with a woman before (heís 19). Although he doesnít specifically answer that question, she realizes heís a virgin. We then see that her top is off (but donít see any nudity) and then see her get on top of him on the bed and they kiss (but we donít see anything other than their heads from that point on.
  • George smokes a pipe several times and we later see him acquiring a new one and some tobacco in a ransacked town.
  • Chiles and his mother see his father/her husband be murdered.
  • A woman sees her husband get murdered.
  • Roedel learns that his father was killed by a former friend, now an enemy.
  • A man comments on his son being killed in the war, resulting in Sue Lee being a widow (after only being married a few weeks).
  • The Civil War.
  • Why Holt, a former slave, would continue to fight with the Confederate forces.
  • We see Jayhawkers burning a house and one of them then shoots Chilesí father dead.
  • Several men are shot and killed during an ambush and the attackers then set fire to a market and burn it.
  • A man holds a rifle to Roedelís head, prepared to kill him, but gets shot in the head himself. Roedel then runs inside the house while his comrades break windows and start firing at the men who have the house surrounded and are firing into it. During this, a shot tears off part of Roedelís pinkie and several other people are hit by gunfire. The people outdoors then push a burning cart up against the house, catching it on fire. As a result, the Bushwhackers break through a wall and escape, with people on both sides being wounded or killed by gunfire.
  • A manís mouth is bloody after a horse rolls over on top of him.
  • More people are wounded or killed by gunfire.
  • Roedel learns that his father was killed by a former friend, now an enemy.
  • Chiles slaps Roedel on the back of the head.
  • The guys ride up to find Mr. Evans dead and his house engulfed in flames.
  • A gun battle breaks out at night with Holt and others shooting several people (who are injured or die). One of the Bushwhackers is shot in the arm and several days after that arm is amputated, that man dies.
  • As a large contingent of Bushwhackers approach a town, they first shoot a farmer point blank and kill him. The men on horseback then race into town, hitting and shooting many people. A person is nearly thrown out a window. Pitt shoots and kills a man lying on the ground and the forces then burn buildings in the town and throw chairs through the storefront windows.
  • When Pitt wants to kill several innocent townsfolk, Roedel and others hold their guns on them.
  • The Bushwhackers charge the Union forces with many shots being fired from both sides and people falling to the ground wounded or dead. The Bushwhackers then retreat, form another line and then shoot the Union forces as they come at them (more people are wounded or killed). More bloody shooting and wounding and/or killing then follows with several key Bushwhackers either being killed or wounded.
  • Roedel, Holt and Sue Lee have a tense encounter with Pitt and another man that ends up with the former group holding their guns on the latter, but nothing ultimately happens.

  • Reviewed December 13, 1999 / Posted December 17, 1999

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