All the Pretty Horses


All the Pretty Horses

Critics Consensus

This adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's novel comes off as rather flat and uninvolving. Scenes feel rushed and done in shorthand, and the romance between Damon and Cruz has no sparks.



Total Count: 99


Audience Score

User Ratings: 11,923
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Movie Info

Texas teenager John Grady Cole finds himself alone in the world after his mother sells the ranch where he grew up, forcing him to leave the only life he has ever known. Joined by his pal Lacey Rawlins, John Grady sets off on horseback for Mexico where the cowboy life still exists. On their way south, the two precocious horsemen encounter a variety of adventures, pick up a sidekick-a 13-year-old misfit named Blevins-and eventually arrive at a hacienda where they are hired to break horses. There, John Grady falls into an ill-fated romance with Alejandra, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy ranch owner. It is a disaster that leads to arrest, Mexican jail and a murder in self-defense-and ultimately proves to be John Grady's greatest test of maturity and manhood.

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Critic Reviews for All the Pretty Horses

All Critics (99) | Top Critics (33) | Fresh (32) | Rotten (67)

  • McCarthy's novel employs the coming of age narrative in service of his sanguineous spiritual vision, and for the film to renounce that philosophy is to give up its soul and be rendered lifeless.

    Dec 26, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Lovely but disengaging, mysterious but uninvolving, physical but strangely remote.

    Dec 26, 2000
  • Working from Ted Tally's casually artful script, director Billy Bob Thornton guides Matt Damon, Henry Thomas and Penelope Cruz to their most impressive performances in a major movie yet.

    Dec 26, 2000 | Rating: 4/4
  • Whether you're familiar with the story or not, you'll have trouble feeling connected to it.

    Dec 26, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Feels at once too slow and yet oddly truncated.

    Dec 26, 2000
  • Lacks an essential sense of purpose.

    Dec 26, 2000

Audience Reviews for All the Pretty Horses

  • Dec 31, 2011
    Billy Bob Thornton must be some kind of self-hating redneck, because his films are so redneck that they're just plain offensive. Seriously, in "Sling Blade", they may as well have specified that his mental disability was "Redneckitis". Well, ladies and gentlemen, ol' Billy Bob is back, and this time, he's taking on a western drama about cowboys; and sure enough, this film is so redneck that I was waiting for them to lynch the title to this film, because this is probably the gayest title to a western that I've ever heard. Heath Ledger's ghost is somewhere, staring down at this film in a bargain bin at Wal-Mart and saying, "Wow, that is a gay-sounding western." Wow, a gay "and" Heath Ledger joke, at the same time; now that's offensive. Maybe this is a case of misery loves company, seeing as I'm really offended right now, because I'll be a monkey's uncle if they didn't make the goofiest, most numbskull, thickly-accented redneck of the entire film the only Alabamian in the cast; but hey, that's Lucas Black's thing: setting us back a few decades. Okay, in all honesty, outside of Mr. Black, the film isn't that rednecky, but even if it was, you wouldn't notice, because exaggerated characters would be hidden, somewhere, in the midst of this film's big pile of other problems. Now, I said that the film isn't too rednecky; I never said that it wasn't stereotypical, not just in the character department, but in the film department, because this rather refreshing idea for a western goes rather unfulfilled, because Billy Bob Thornton is too artistic to the point of being sappy. When the dramatic aspects come into play, Thornton is overemphatic on the atmosphere, so much so that after a while, the resonance loses steam and feels melodramatic to an overly theatrical, very generic state. That lack of emotional resonance isn't helped by the fact that it's hard to tell what's going on, seeing as this film has "so" many subplots. Of course, no matter which subplot we're on, the film seems to skim through it, rushing through scene, after scene, which of course takes a blow to later character development, and by extension, Matt Damon and Penélope Cruz's chemistry. The film isn't terribly disappointing, but there is definately a squandering of potential, because if Thornton to loosen up a bit on the extreme artistry, tighten up some scenes, add some more exposition and smoothly extend this film - seeing as there's too much here to comfortably cover in just under two hours -, this would have been an excellent western. Of course, for it be just that close to excellence, the film would have to still have a lot of strengths; and sure enough, the film has plenty that's good about it. I wish I could say that the film really delivers emotionally, but from an entertainment standpoint, this film is actually pretty fun and lively. The score to this film is really good, having that traditional western sound, but with a bit of a refreshing twist that brings a lot of spirit and life to this film, almost as much as the production designs. There's nothing tremendous about the production, but it still captures the essence and scope of this wester environment, yet there is still enough of a contemporary tone to remind you that this is the 1940s, one of last few years of rural western life. I disagree with those who deem the film totally uninvolving, because while it doesn't live up to its potential as a drama, it's still an entertaining film. However, speaking of the drama, no matter how messily Thornton handles it, there is a degree of it that does, in fact, ring true, almost entirely because the performers try their hearts out. Now, I have a tendency to overstate "just good" performances, and yes, these performances in here are "just good", but that's "just good" attract your attention. Matt Damon, Henry Thomas and yes, even the very offensive Lucas Black are all charismatic leads, delivering their snappy dialogue charmingly, but when dramatic aspects come along, they're compelling. Again, our leads aren't terribly solid, but they're not suppose to be; they all just play along, not trying to one-up each other, and develop sharp chemistry in their relationship, and seeing as their relationship is most prominent, they carry the film with their charm. In the end, its briefness, sometimes generically melodramatic tone and messily-handled massive amound of subplots dilute dramatic resonance and squander some pretty high potential, but thanks to the lively production, as well as sharply charismatic lead performances by Damon, Thomas and Black, "All the Pretty Horses" is left a thoroughly entertaining film; improvable though, it may be. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Mar 22, 2011
    As in most of these cases, I liked the book better. This movie stayed pretty close to the book though, which for me is always a plus. I thought it was good, but not great.
    Sarah P Super Reviewer
  • Dec 31, 2010
    An ok film overall. Great aesthetics but the narrative wasn't really shown too well. I'll have to read the book and find out if that's McCarthys fault or the makers of this film. It had hints of a summer romance film but didn't quite get there which is a shame since performances were good.
    Sophie B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 14, 2010
    I thought that this was a really good movie, despite alot of bad reviews. I say this even though I am not a Penelope Cruz fan, but I AM a Matt Damon this probably helped my opinion. I think that he did a fantastic job. I thought that this was going to be primarily a love story, but it was so much more than that.
    Cynthia S Super Reviewer

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