[Screen It]


(1999) (Richard Farnsworth, Sissy Spacek) (G)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Minor Mild Mild Mild
Mild Minor Minor None Mild
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Minor Moderate Mild Moderate Minor

Drama: A 73-year-old man sets out on a several hundred-mile trip on his riding lawn mower to see his sick, estranged brother.
Alvin Straight (RICHARD FARNSWORTH) is a 73-year-old man who hasn't spoken to his brother, Lyle (HARRY DEAN STANTON) in more than ten years due to harsh words spoken at their last meeting. A simple, but proud and stubborn man, Alvin lives with his mentally slow adult daughter, Rose (SISSY SPACEK), and hates that his health is progressively deteriorating.

When he gets a call that Lyle has had a stroke, Alvin decides to swallow his pride and go and visit him. The only problem is, Lyle lives in Mt. Zion, Wisconsin, several hundred miles from Alvin's home in Laurens, Iowa, and due to his failing eyesight, Alvin has neither a car nor a driver's license.

Not letting that or his bad hips deter him, the WWII veteran decides he'll simply drive his riding lawn mower through the farmlands and across the Mississippi. When his first attempt fails due to mechanical problems, Alvin takes his limited cash and buys a 1966 John Deere mower. With a stocked trailer hitched behind it, Alvin sets off.

Traveling at five miles an hour and camping out overnight, Alvin's trip soon turns into a several week odyssey where he meets various people who touch or are touched by his aged wisdom. They include Crystal (ANASTASIA WEBB), a young and pregnant runaway, a woman (BARBARA ROBERTSON) with an unfortunate penchant for hitting deer on her commute, a middle-aged couple, Danny (JAMES CADA) and Darla Riordon (SALLY WINGERT) who help him when his mower breaks down, and Verlyn Heller (WILEY HARKER), a fellow WWII vet.

Proudly refusing rides from anyone he meets and as the weeks of fall pass by as he ever so slowly nears Mt. Zion, Alvin not only hopes that his brother is still okay, but that they can reconcile their differences and spend some time together as they once did, staring up in into the star-filled night sky.

Despite the G rating, it's not very likely that many kids will want to see a story about a 73-year-old man who drives his lawn mower several hundred miles to see his sick brother.
For not containing material to warrant a higher rating (in their opinion).
  • RICHARD FARNSWORTH plays a stubborn but proud man who decides to ride his riding lawn mower several hundred miles to see his sick brother and repair their fractured relationship. Along the way he shoots an old and unreliable mower, smokes cigars and has a beer.
  • SISSY SPACEK plays his mentally slow daughter who's naturally concerned about her father's seemingly foolhardy trip. She also smokes a few times.
  • JAMES CADA plays a friendly man who puts up Alvin for several days and smokes and drinks a bit.
  • WILEY HARKER plays a fellow WWII veteran who recounts his war nightmares while having a beer.


    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).

    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this G rated drama (that's not aimed specifically at kids despite the rating). Notwithstanding that rating, the film does contain some profanity (several hells, and a few religious phrases) as well as very mild colorful phrases.

    In addition, some more mature thematic elements are present in the form of a pregnant runaway girl, Alvin's recounting of some traumatic WWII experiences and a similarly recounted postwar drinking problem. Violence consists of Alvin shooting his lawn mower and a deer accidentally being killed, while he smokes cigars throughout the film and some drinking is present.

    Beyond that, a briefly tense moment where Alvin loses control of his mower and careens down a steep road, the rest of the film is relatively void of any major objectionable material. Since some parents may be more inclined to take their young kids to this film due to its G rating, however, those who are still concerned with the film's appropriateness for anyone in their home should more carefully examine our detailed content listings.

  • We see neon bar window signs advertising various beer names.
  • One of Alvin's buddies holds a beer while standing outside a bar.
  • Danny and others drink beer watching some firefighters practicing.
  • Danny pulls a beer out of the fridge, but doesn't appear to drink it.
  • Verlyn has a beer in a bar, while Alvin mentions that he developed a drinking problem after returning from WWII (trying to cope with what he had seen and experienced).
  • Alvin has his first beer in a long time in a bar.
  • We see a recently struck and dead deer, but it isn't bloody or gory.
  • Some lawn mower repairmen try to overcharge Alvin (but he makes them amend their bill).
  • Alvin admits to holding a grudge and not talking to his estranged brother for more than ten years.
  • Crystal, has decided to run away from home instead of telling her family or boyfriend that she's pregnant.
  • The sight of Alvin on the floor may be unsettling to some viewers (as if he's dead or injured, but he's okay and has just fallen).
  • Some intense sounding thunderstorms may be a bit unsettling or scary for the youngest of kids (however, they're only briefly portrayed and always in a realistic and not abnormally frightening fashion).
  • Alvin loses control of his mower and attached trailer and goes careening down a steep hill on the highway (but is okay in the end).
  • Some viewers may be upset when a deer gets hit by a car (not seen, but heard, although we do see the dead, but not bloody deer lying on the road).
  • Alvin's verbal recounting of his experience in WWII as a sniper may be a little unsettling for some viewers (where he accidentally shot one of his own men).
  • Rifle: Used by Alvin to shoot his old, broken-down lawn mower.
  • Alvin verbally recounts some violence he experienced in WWII where several men were killed (including one he shot as a sniper -- not seen).
  • Phrases: "What the hell is going on?" "Nuts" (crazy), "Jeez," "Oh Jeez," "Son of a gun," "Geezer" (what Alvin calls himself), "What the…?" and "Shut up."
  • Alvin shoots his old riding lawn mower with a rifle.
  • Some kids may get the idea to ride a riding lawn mower down the highway just like Alvin.
  • The sudden clap of thunder in several scenes may make some viewers jump due to the sudden, loud sound.
  • A few scenes have just the tiniest amount of ominous music/tones playing in them.
  • None.
  • At least 6 hells, 1 damn and 1 use each of "G-damn," Oh my God," "Jesus," "For God's sakes," "Lord" and "My God" as exclamations.
  • Crystal is five months pregnant and mentions that her boyfriend doesn't know.
  • Alvin smokes cigars around eight times (despite having a doctor tell him that he has emphysema from it), while Danny and Rose smoke a few times.
  • Alvin learns that his estranged brother (whom he hasn't seen in ten years) has had a stroke and thus sets off to see him and reconcile their differences.
  • Crystal mentions that her family hates her.
  • Alvin mentions that he and his wife had fourteen children, seven of whom survived and that his wife died in 1981. He also mentions that due to circumstances beyond her control, Rose had her children taken away from her (due to her slow mental state and an accident caused by someone else).
  • Alvin's determination to see his brother, no matter their past differences or the complications and hardship he must face to do so (and the fact that he's nice to everyone he meets, no matter what their status in life).
  • Crystal being a young and pregnant runaway (and that Alvin convinces her to return home).
  • Rose's condition -- she's mentally slow.
  • Alvin's admission that he developed a drinking problem after returning from WWII (from what he had seen and experienced).
  • Alvin twice shoots his broken-down riding lawn mower, causing it to explode in flames.
  • A woman accidentally hits and kills a deer with her car on the highway (we hear, but don't see the impact).
  • Alvin verbally recounts some violence he experienced in WWII (as does Verlyn) where several men were killed (including one he shot as a sniper -- not seen -- and we hear some war-related sounds as he does so)

  • Reviewed October 18, 1999 / Posted October 22, 1999

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