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"AMERICAN OUTLAWS"
(2001) (Colin Farrell, Scott Caan) (PG-13)

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


QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Action/Adventure: After returning from the American Civil War, a small group of Confederate renegades become notorious outlaws as they rob and sabotage a railroad company that's threatening to take control of their land.
PLOT:
It's right after the American Civil War and a small group of Confederate veterans have returned to their hometown of Liberty, Missouri. Among them are brothers Jesse (COLIN FARRELL) and Frank James (GABRIEL MACHT) who are happy to see their mother (KATHY BATES), and brothers Cole (SCOTT CAAN) and Bob Younger (WILL McCORMACK) who are now reunited with their younger brother, Jim (GREGORY SMITH).

Although Jesse is encouraged by how Zee Mimms (ALI LARTER), daughter of Doc Mimms (RONNIE COX), has grown up, things don't look good for the men and their Confederate companions including Clell Miller (TY O'NEAL), Loni Packwood (JOE STEVENS) and Comanche Tom (NATHANIEL ARCAND).

It seems that a Union garrison now occupies their town and that railroad tycoon, Thaddeus Rains (HARRIS YULIN), of the Rock Island Railroad, is using eminent domain to claim a right of way thoroughfare for his line. For those who don't accept his offer of $2 dollars an acre, Rains' right-hand man, Rollin Parker (TERRY O'QUINN), hired consultant and founder of the Secret Service, Allan Pinkerton (TIMOTHY DALTON), and his men are on hand to take care of any problems should they arise.

They do in the form of the angry farmers who've decided they've had enough of the government and Northerners pushing them around. Accordingly, the farmers form the James-Younger gang and decide to disrupt the railroad company's expansion by robbing it off its money and sabotaging its tracks. The gang soon becomes infamous for their various bank robberies and daring rescues, much to the chagrin of Rains.

From the point on, and as Pinkerton and his men try to track them down and capture the various outlaws, the various members of the James-Younger gang continue with their quest, all while dealing with both internal and external complications that threaten their goal, freedom and lives.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of anyone in the cast or of old style Westerns, they just might.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For western violence.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • COLIN FARRELL plays the legendary Jesse James, a charismatic and daring American outlaw who's the co-leader of the James-Younger gang that robs many banks and sabotages rail lines while trying to put a railroad company out of business for attempting to take his and others' farm land. In the process, he shoots and wounds or kills various people and briefly uses some profanity.
  • GABRIEL MACHT plays his brother who joins him in such activities and is the best educated of the bunch.
  • SCOTT CAAN plays one of the Younger brothers who joins the James brothers in becoming famous outlaws. He also kills several people and uses some profanity.
  • WILL McCORMACK plays his brother who's also involved in such activity.
  • GREGORY SMITH plays the youngest Younger brother who joins his older siblings in their various escapades.
  • HARRIS YULIN plays a ruthless railroad businessman who will do anything legal or illegal to move his rail line across the country.
  • TIMOTHY DALTON plays the head of the Pinkerton Detective Agency who's been hired by Rains to take care of any problems that arise during such expansion. Accordingly, he sets out to find and apprehend the James-Younger gang.
  • ALI LARTER plays the young woman who falls for and eventually marries Jesse despite his outlaw behavior.
  • NATHANIEL ARCAND, TY O'NEAL and JOE STEVENS plays friends and fellow war veterans who join the James-Younger gang in their criminal behavior.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    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).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this action-based Western that's been rated PG-13. Violence is listed as extreme due to many gun battles and shootings where many people are shot and wounded or killed (although only a few of the injuries are seen as mildly bloody or gory, and most of the violence occurs in an action-adventure rather than "Saving Private Ryan" fashion). Others are wounded or killed by cannon fire, explosions, hand to hand combat or hangings (we see a body hanging after one) and some tense family scenes stem from characters seeing family members dying.

    Some of those scenes and others where people threaten others with harm/death may be unsettling or suspenseful for some viewers. Most of the characters have bad attitudes of one degree or another (some are bank robbers - who occasionally are deadly - and others are ruthless businessmen or their henchmen who also kill to achieve their desired results).

    Profanity consists of at least 5 uses of the "s" word, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also present. A few sexually related comments are made, some of the men are seen in the company of prostitutes in public (although no related behavior or nudity is present), and some brief, passionate kissing occurs.

    Some characters smoke and drink, with a teenager briefly doing some of the latter (although he gets sick from it), while it's possible some kids could get the idea that bank robbing is all fun and action, and a way of becoming famous since that's what happens here. Should you still be concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone in your home who might be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what's present in and occurs during the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Some men drink while playing poker, as Cole, Jesse and Frank have shots of liquor and then ask for some more.
  • Various characters drink in a saloon, including Jesse and Jim, the latter of whom states he's not too young to be drinking. Moments later, however, he starts to feel ill and runs outside to vomit (not seen). We also see Loni drink.
  • Someone calls for some whiskey for an injured comrade.
  • After marring Jesse and Zee, a priest says "Let's have a drink." Jesse questions that happening in church and the priest mentions "communion."
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a person hanging dead from a noose (but beyond being dead he's not bloody or gory).
  • Bob has a small cut above his eye.
  • We see some mildly bloody bandages on Jesse after he's been shot in the chest (but he recovers from this wound).
  • A woman is a bit charred and possibly a bit bloody after momentarily surviving an explosion (but it's nothing graphic/gross).
  • We see a small, bloody bullet hole in a man's clothing.
  • We see another man's blood covering Jesse's hands.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The opposing sides in the Civil War obviously have both types of attitudes toward each other.
  • Rains' efforts to take over others' land for his railroad obviously show he has both types of attitudes (as do his later reactions to the locals trying to stop that - including murdering people and destroying property).
  • Some viewers might not like others making negative remarks about Jesse and Frank's mom carrying on an unheard conversation with Jesus/God.
  • The James/Younger gang robs many banks as they strike back at Rains and his efforts to take their land.
  • Loni complains that his wife ran off with his cousin (and took his dog).
  • A priest agrees to marry Jesse and Zee and not turn him in, in exchange for some money to repair the church's roof.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" may also be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers, as might various scenes where people threaten to shoot others (with guns aimed at them), but eventually don't do anything.
  • We see a noose being placed around Cole's neck as officials prepare to hang him, but his comrades stage a daring rescue and prevent that from happening.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Rifles/Pistols/Cannons/Gatling gun/Swords/Bayonets/Explosives (including dynamite): Used to threaten, wound or kill many people and/or damage property. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Horse sh*t," "You dumb sh*t," "Pissing myself," "Why the hell didn't you just say so?" "What the hell /is wrong with you/was that?" "Shut up," "Hell, no," "You can tell (name) to put this where the sun don't shine," "Damn you all," "Bastards," "Piss off," "Hell, yeah," "Piss poor" and "You cocky little bastard."
  • Cole spits in a Union soldier/hangman's face when the latter brings him a hood to be hanged in.
  • Since, for the most part, they make it look like so much fun and become famous doing so, it's possible some kids could want to imitate the James-Younger gang in robbing banks and/or causing similar trouble.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A moderate amount of action-oriented suspenseful and dramatic music plays during the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 5 "s" words, 1 slang term for sex ("screwed"), 14 hells, 9 damns, 4 S.O.B.s, 1 ass, 3 uses of "G-damn," 2 of "Oh Lord" and 1 use each of "Jesus," "Swear to God" and "God forsaken" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • The guys joke with Cole about the guy he "screwed" in the past. Cole then says that Sadie was a beautiful woman and not a man. The others then joke that she had a mustache and more than that.
  • After Zee gets into bed with an injured Jesse to prevent officials from finding him (by acting like they've barged into her room with her blocking their view of him), she asks Jesse, "Is that your hand?" as she gets up (saying she thinks he's feeling better already) and he smiles.
  • Jesse and Zee briefly, but passionately kiss before being interrupted.
  • Various members of the gang are in the public company of prostitutes, with Cole picking up one such woman and carrying her off over his shoulder. Jesse then asks Jim, who's a teenager, if he's been with a girl yet. Jim acts like he has, but then states that he didn't want to have one of those "paid ladies" (hookers) and asks Jesse not to tell the others that he hasn't been with a woman (sexually). Later, Loni walks off with the woman of his choice, but we don't see any related and implied activity related to any of them.
  • Jesse tells Zee that he wants to do something with her that he's been thinking about for a long time, but she says it will have to wait until after they're married. We then see them getting married.
  • Jesse, who's shirtless, and Zee, who's fully dressed, frolic in a body of water where they then passionately kiss.
  • SMOKING
  • Frank smokes a pipe, Rains smokes a cigar, and a few miscellaneous characters also smoke.
  • One of the men looks as if he has (tobacco) chew in his mouth (we see a bulge), but that could also just be the shape of his face, as we never see him spitting, etc.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Although all of the following involve characters reacting to deaths in their immediate family, there's not a great deal of grieving beyond an immediate moment or two and then there's little or none after that.
  • Zee and her father learn from Jesse and Frank about her brother/his son's death in the war.
  • Jesse and Frank see their mother die before them.
  • A man sees his brother die from a gun wound.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The artistic license taken with these true-life characters and stories and whether all of the outlaws were as charming and funny as portrayed here.
  • The American Civil War.
  • The expansion of the railroad lines across the country.
  • The concept of eminent domain.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Union forces open fire on Confederate soldiers who are riding by, hitting them with gunfire and wounding or killing them (but without blood or gore). The Confederate soldiers shoot back with rifles and pistols, hitting various members of the enemy and wounding or killing them. As Jesse, Frank and others take cover behind a wagon, the Union forces fire at them with both a cannon (that fires shots that explode and send bodies flying) and a Gatling gun that riddles the wagon with bullets.
  • During all of this, more people are shot (and wounded or killed), while Frank shoots a soldier manning the cannon. He then fires another shot that hits their ordinance box, causing it to explode. Needing to cause a diversion, Jesse then rides toward the enemy, shooting many soldiers dead (or wounded) while the Gatling gun shoots many Union soldiers as it tries to hit him. Frank acts as a sniper and shoots three more men.
  • We then see hand to hand combat during this small battle, with people shooting, punching and hitting/attempt to hit others with fists, guns, swords and bayonets (while lethal, it's all played more for action than anything resembling "Saving Private Ryan" realism).
  • Jesse and a young enemy soldier hold their guns on each other, but Jesse lets the young man go, but not before kicking him in the rear end as he flees.
  • We see a person hanging dead from a noose.
  • Jesse and Frank hold their guns on Pinkerton, Parker and others to make them leave their land.
  • Bob states that Jimmy tried to stop a detective who then hit him on the head and knocked him out (with Bob sporting a small cut above his eye, apparently from the altercation). He then states that Cole killed two detectives in response (not seen).
  • We see a noose being placed around Cole's neck as officials prepare to hang him, and the executioner backhands Cole after Cole spits in his face. Frank then shoots a man, possibly in the hand, to prevent him from pulling the hanging lever. Another man knocks down a second man with his horse as he rescues Cole. Tom then smashes through a window on horseback, while Pinkerton shoots at Jesse who runs him over with his horse (rendering him unconscious and injuring him). Other then shoot at the escaping men, but miss, and we then see that Jesse was shot in the chest (but he recovers from that wound).
  • Several buildings explode at night (caused by Parker's men).
  • A house explodes and an injured woman comes out and dies a few moments later.
  • As two of the men rob a bank at gunpoint, an older man - who wants to get into the bank - hits Jimmy and then another man with his cane as he tries to get around him. The local sheriff then comes out, fires a warning shot into the air, and aims his gun at the robbers as they're about to leave, but lowers his gun when they all aims their guns at him.
  • We see all sorts of explosions along a railroad line as track and/or equipment is destroyed.
  • Members of the James-Younger gang hold their guns on a train conductor and then on people in a bank. Later, and upset that his poster image doesn't resemble him, Bob feigns being menacing toward a teller during another holdup where he aims his gun at him.
  • After the two get into an argument over Cole's latest plan, Cole drives Jesse through a glass window and out onto the street. There, they exchange a few punches and then briefly hold their guns on each other.
  • During another bank robbery, a great deal of men open fire on two of the gang members outside a bank, pinning them behind a water trough. Many men inside the bank then open fire on the other gang members, who dive to take cover behind a table that's then riddled with bullets. Jesse then rolls across a table, firing his guns and wounding or killing others (but nothing graphic). Jesse then dives through a glass window and several gang members shoot a man off a water tower. Various gang members then set off dynamite, causing a huge explosion that destroys a building, and then run into an adjoining building as another huge explosion goes off. More dynamite causes more explosions as the men atop a building keep firing at the gang. Dynamite then blows out a support holding up the water tower, causing it to fall onto the roof of the building, destroying it and knocking the men to the ground and/or washing them away. During this, one of the gang members is mortally wounded by gunfire (he later dies after they've escaped).
  • Bob holds his gun on Cole when he thinks his brother had something to do with Jesse being captured.
  • A man backhands Jesse who's cuffed and shackled to an overhead bar in a train. Jesse then kicks that man in the crotch, head-butts him and kicks another man as the one man's gun is fired. Jesse then slides along that bar, knocking everyone down, grabbing the gun and shooting open a locked gun case.
  • We then see various men being thrown from the train, and others shooting at Jesse as he runs along the top of it (shooting through the roof at him). Jesse then swings along the side of the train, shooting and wounding or killing many people inside.
  • Once surrounded, Jesse opens fire on both parties atop a train, but a cannon shot then hits the front of the train, damaging it and stopping its progress.
  • A large group of men then ride up and fire into the train, with the various guards/soldiers inside it shooting back at the attackers. Various people are shot (and wounded or killed), but there's no blood/gore. An explosive blows up inside the train.
  • Jesse jumps and lands on Pinkerton, holding a gun on him. He then shoots another man preparing to shoot him, and then shoots Rains' watch after throwing it into the air (and threatening to shoot him).



  • Reviewed August 13, 2001 / Posted August 17, 2001

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