Box art for Promised Land

Promised Land


Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand star in this compelling drama about the strength of an American small town at a crossroads. From the director of Good Will Hunting.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
  • Audience Score

common sense

ON for kids age 15
2 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
4 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
2 out of 5
1 out of 5
1 out of 5

Low-key "issues" drama has some strong language, drinking.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that Promised Land is a drama about big companies and farming communities, big money, and environmental troubles that's rated R primarily for strong language (including several uses of "f--k"). It's told through two main characters: a well-meaning company man and a grass-roots activist, neither of whom are what they seem. It's a movie filled with issues and ideas, and it would make for good discussions with teens. In addition to the swearing, there's a scene with strong drinking (followed by a hangover), as well as one fight, some flirting, and a little product placement.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about what the farmers should do. Should they take the money or look for a better solution? Is there a "right" answer to this problem?
  • What's the right thing for the main character, Steve Butler, to do? What does he learn over the course of Promised Land? Is he a role model?
  • How does the movie depict drinking? Why do the characters drink? Are there realistic consequences?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    reviews counted: 20
    see all Promised Land reviews
  • Audience


Top Critic Reviews

Rotten: While there's no faulting the talent or good intentions of the people involved, however, they make the mistake of leaving out the spoonful of sugar, which makes the medicine get stuck in your throat. It's all message and very little movie.

- Alonso Duralde, TheWrap, Thursday, December 27, 2012

Rotten: Despite their Everyman appeal, Damon and Krasinski don't create much by way of emotional investment, instead becoming mirror images of their most mild-mannered, white-bread selves.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, December 28, 2012

Rotten: "Promised Land" offers an experience that's alternately amusing and frustrating, full of impassioned earnestness as well as saggy sections.

- Christy Lemire, Associated Press, Monday, December 31, 2012

Audience Reviews

2 stars

**1/2 A few years ago I watched a movie called "Gasland" about natural gas fraking(I think I spelled that right) here in the U.S. Basically when companies get naturdal gas from the ground, bad stuff can happen. This is a movie that deals with that and dramatizes it. Matt Damon stars as a Natural Gas salesman whose job is to sell a town on the idea of extracting natural gas from their town. While in the process a school teacher objects and challenges him to a town vote because of the dangers that could come from the process. Enter John Kransinski as an environmentalist who comes to the town to help the teacher and stop Damon and the company. It may sound boring, and some of it is, but overall I thought it was interesting. I liked the scenes with Kransinski and Damon, and I liked the little twist towards the end. It's not a perfect movie, and a lot of people probably won't like it, but I think it's worth a rental.

- fb100000145236770, Thursday, May 30, 2013

3 stars

Steve (Damon) is a rep for Global Crosspower Solutions, an energy company who specialize in extracting natural gas through the controversial practice of "fracking". Hailing from a small rural town in Iowa has given him an edge in winning over the residents of such communities. For this reason, he is dispatched to a farming town in rural Pennsylvania with the task of buying the right to frack on the locals' land. There he comes up against local teacher Frank (Holbrook), who raises concerns over the methods used by Global. When a member of an activist group arrives in town and begins to turn the residents against Global, it seems Steve is facing his toughest battle yet. If you miss the credits of 'Promised Land', you may think it's the latest work of Cameron Crowe or Jason Reitman. Both those directors seem to be building their careers around the 'Local Hero' idea of soulless corporate men finding themselves with the help of simple everyday folk. The credits reveal this instead to be the work of Gus Van Sant but they also contain a disturbing revelation; the funding for the film came courtesy of Abu Dhabi. This may be a tirade against natural gas drilling but let's not kid ourselves, it's equally a propaganda piece for the oil industry. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" would seem to be Van Sant's justification but it leaves a nasty, oily, taste in the mouth. It's testament to Damon's affability that, despite the dubious nature of his character, we find ourselves rooting for him to succeed. This is the film's major problem though as this clearly isn't the intention of the film-makers. The script, penned by actors Damon and Krasinski, is riddled with issues. There's a romantic subplot that comes across as far more superficial than you're meant to believe. The seeds of numerous other subplots involving the small-town folks are sown but never come to fruition. Worst of all is a final act plot twist that comes across as ludicrous. There's always something annoying about millionaire Hollywood types telling us commoners that some things are more important than money and that's exactly what you get here. In spite of all these grievances, I have to confess I enjoyed 'Promised Land'. Even though it wasn't Damon's intention, I found myself charmed by his character.

- moviewaffle, Monday, April 15, 2013

3 stars

Even though it's preachier than a convention of pastors, Matt Damon's latest act of Good Will isn't a total fracking disaster. In fact, it's a feel good message movie that really hits home, especially in Northeastern-most Pennsylvania where the shale industry's set the now-flammable tap water on an extra-crispy setting. Oh, it colors by numbers, only the colors are black and white even if the numbers amount to a respectable figure. The movie's most egregious act is how it forces intelligent filmgoers drink the communal Kool-Aid dredged up from the water of Silent Spring rather than use subtlety. Regardless of how hard he proselytizes, however, Damon earns a Gold Star for formulating what's topical into an easy-to-swallow pill. It's still a force-fed pill, mind--just not a horsepill choking hazard. In this R-rated drama, a multibillion-dollar company sends two of its top salesmen (Damon, Frances McDormand) to convince a small town's residents to lease their land for fracking rights. Damon allows the rest of the cast to shine first, relegating himself to the rube role before a predictable close plays out. Even after kicking blockbusting ass as amnesiatic superspy Jason Borne, Damon perfectly embodies an Everyman quality like he was the lovechild of Gary Cooper and Gregory Peck. The story doesn't pose a Land of opportunity but, thanks to the taut direction of Damon's Good Will Hunting collaborator Gus Van Sant, the action never lags. Still, Damon and co-screenwriter Krasinski come up with a twist and romantic hook clever enough to keep even the most cynical filmgoers vested. Bottom Line: Bourne mediocrity.

- jeffboam, Tuesday, January 8, 2013