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Movie Review

Country Strong

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for thematic elements involving alcohol abuse and some sexual content.

Reviewed by: Mike Coad
CONTRIBUTOR—first time reviewer

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Music Drama
1 hr. 52 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
December 22, 2010 (limited)
January 7, 2011 (wide—1,424 theaters)
DVD: April 12, 2011
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, Screen Gems

Music in the Bible


alchohol abuse


SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Sex, Love & Relationships
Learn how to make your love the best it can be. Discover biblical answers to questions about sex, marriage, sexual addictions, and more.
Featuring: Gwyneth Paltrow (Kelly Canter), Garrett Hedlund (Beau Hutton), Leighton Meester (Chiles Stanton), Tim McGraw (James Canter), more »
Director: Shana Feste
Producer: Screen Gems, Maguire Entertainment, TVM, George Flynn, Tobey Maguire, Valerie Bleth Sharp, Jenno Topping, Meredith Zamsky
Distributor: Screen Gems

“It doesn’t matter where you’ve been as long as you come back strong.”

I went into this film with some expectation of what I would be seeing—lots of country music—Gwyneth Paltrow crying a few times—and just generally a basic story line of a fallen star who returns back to stardom. What I didn’t expect is the level of profanity and sexual situations and a complete absence of any sense of morality.

The story follows the lives of four main characters—Beau Hutton and Chiles Stanton as two young and rising country singers/songwriters and James Cantor and Kelly Cantor as the country superstar and her husband /manager. The story picks up with Kelly (prematurely) getting out of alcohol rehab and her husband pushing her to get back on the road to rebuild her career. Along for the ride are Beau and Chiles, who are picked out of the local bar scene to perform with Kelly on her comeback tour.

She does indeed make her comeback, after several failed attempts, mostly due to alcohol abuse and just generally reckless and destructive behavior. These include sexual encounters—none of which are with her husband. This destructive behavior is apparently due to an an event a few months earlier in her life, when she had a miscarriage due to a drunken fall from stage at a concert in Dallas. The film’s only slightly moral comment is made by Beau, after after being with Kelly, when he says, “Maybe we should stop—you are married”—maybe? we should stop.

This is one of the most depressing films I have ever seen, with some of the most unlikable and dysfunctional characters, who I never really came to be interested in or care about. Even when Kelly has her predictable comeback moment, it’s hard to root for her, because of her horrible behavior up to that point. There is never any remorse or redemptive expressions by any of the characters, even right up to the end—in fact, the end itself is just the natural outcome of a life (lives) of sin and excess. As my wife said—people with no hope, act out in desperation.

As for the negative content, there is much.

Profanity is peppered throughout, with a sum total of almost 50 “cuss” words, plus about 17 missuses of the Lord’s name. At times it seemed rapid fire.

Sexual situations are plentiful, also—several scenes of various stages of undress and several implied and not so implied (as in shown) adulterous and inappropriate sexual encounters. No actual nudity, but plenty to make up for it.

Violence is low, with only one punch thrown by James to Beau.

All in all, I cannot recommend this film. It could have been so much better—everybody loves a comeback story—it happens all the time in the movies, and we love to root for the one who comes back, and and we feel good with them when they get back on top. Not so here. Kelly lives a life of excess and never shows remorse for her actions—while very sad—not someone you can get behind and wish the best for.

As for moviemaking quality, it isn’t too bad—the acting, writing, filming, etc. is about average. Gwyneth does a fairly decent job on her songs, and most of the music, itself, is pretty good (if you like country music). For this, I say skip the movie and get the soundtrack instead.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:


Neutral—This movie was interesting… but for the most part, it just really depressed me. One thing that I found annoying was that the four main characters just couldn’t make up their minds about who they wanted to sleep with. It was like some weird “shuffle the lovers” game was going on.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Dana Ralph, age 19 (USA)
Negative—I hated this movie!!! There was sex in every 15 minutes with someone different. There was way too much emotion in this movie. I do not recommend this movie to anyone! I would have left, but there wasn’t a way out. I can’t believe I paid $9 to see it. And the ending was Awful! Don’t go see this movie. It’s not for anyone younger than 18.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Leslie, age 18 (USA)
Negative—Filthy movie. Nothing is “strong” in “Country Strong,” except the human depravity. Horrible characters. It is depressing that Hollywood thinks this is enjoyable entertainment for Americans.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—David Hart, age 40 (USA)
Negative—My 13 year old daughter and I watched this. We enjoy country music and like Tim McGraw, but this movie was not country and not strong. I wouldn’t even let my daughter finish watching it. The constant switches in romantic relationships and the sexual interactions, even those that were only implied, were terrible. It is certainly not a family movie, and I would not recommend it to anyone.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Kathy, age 40 (USA)
Negative—Movie lacked any substance. Poor storyline. Did not do any favors to country music industry. Filled with fornication and adultery. While Gwenyth Paltrow does have a beautiful voice, it is very much NOT worth seeing just for that.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—LS, age 47 (USA)
Comments from young people
Positive—I decided to watch this movie because it was free to watch, I enjoy Country Music and, overall, it looked like an okay movie from the previews. I was disappointed by the sexual content and the lack of morals in the movie and was also saddened by the depressing ending which came as a surprise to me, being that I thought she would overcome her struggles. But the movie wasn’t all bad, the music was good, but that’s not all. It showed how hard being in the spotlight can truly be. How unhealthy alcohol consumption leads to devastating results, such as a loss of a baby, which leads to more alcohol, drugs, depression and so on.

This was a sad story, but even sadder is knowing that this is what it can really be like in this world. On top of that, I did see that the people were, for the most part, genuinely caring to Kelly, as much as someone not living in the light of God can be.

The value in this movie? Stay close to God don’t fall into Satan’s trap. Pray and reach out to those who are struggling with these issues. And know that this really is a big problem in the spotlight that we as Christians need to minister to. Because of this, the storyline of the movie was excellent in a sad depressing way.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Emilee, age 17 (USA)