Movie Review


The River Wild

reviewed by Dr. Barbara Mack Ph.D.


Self-Help Parent Meter (Scale based on PG-13 films)
0 = Little or none      5 = Great amount or highly

Sex: (0)
Profanity: (1)
Violence: (4)
Fright: (4)


In "The River Wild" (PG-13), Meryl Streep takes you to the heart of the river where the drama and excitement will sweep you away. This is a film for adults that adolescents can also enjoy.

Gail (Streep), her husband Tom (David Strathairn), her 10 year-old son Roarke (Joseph Mazzello) and their dog embark on a river rafting trip. It's a birthday present for Roarke and a chance for his parents to improve their strained relationship. Along the way, they meet fellow rafters, Wade (Kevin Bacon) and Terry (John C. Reilly). Just as the family begins to enjoy their vacation, it becomes a nightmare with the violent effects of nature and men. In this remote and rugged region, the family members are forced to fight for their lives.

Gail, the heroine, is an attractive, wise and loving woman who finds her strength in the river. She is a good role model for adolescent girls. They will see that they can be attractive in a wholesome natural way. Neither her strength nor her intelligence takes away from her femininity.

"The River Wild" shows adolescents that a marriage can improve if the couple works on better communication and does not give up easily. In this time of quick marriages and divorces, this is a message of hope for our youth who wonder about their own marital future.

Gail teaches at a school for the deaf and has a deaf father. He is portrayed as a loving father who lives a comfortable life.This film not only shows acceptance for the deaf, but respect for their abilities to communicate with sign language.

The scenery in "The River Wild" is extraordinary and gives the viewer an appreciation of nature. Gail wants her son to see the river before it becomes polluted. She assumes that the river will be ruined by civilization. Perhaps the scenic beauty and Gail's concern for the river will give adolescents a desire to protect our environment.

I don't recommend this film for younger children because of the level of violence and fright. It is a thriller that includes kidnapping, murder with a gun at close range, death threats to a 10 year-old and his parents, and a crazy murderer. "The River Wild" is an exciting adventure for adolescents and adults. Meryl Streep's performance and the scenery is worth a trip to the theater.


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