What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this film might at first seem to tell kids that the sisters' frivolous lifestyle is desirable and that their carefree, irresponsible behavior is something to aspire to. But things turn around when the girls finally realize the value of hard-earned money, learn about responsibility, and gain respect for people who must work for a living. While adults may not find this quick turnaround believable, the movie's overall intention is good.
What's the story?
In the Disney Channel's family comedy COW BELLES, teen sisters Taylor and Courtney Callum (played by real-life sisters Alyson and Amanda Michalka, of the pop duo Aly & AJ) are spoiled rich girls without a care in the world. But everything changes after they accidentally cause a fire in their kitchen. Their father Reed (Jack Coleman) decides to teach them a lesson in responsibility by making them work at his dairy plant for the summer. At the dairy, the sisters discover that their uncle has made off with a huge amount of money. The factory workers are in an uproar because their paychecks have bounced. With Reed on vacation and out of contact it's up to the girls to scrape together enough money to pay the workers. Taylor decides that the only solution is to take money out of Courtney's $25,000 cotillion allowance, which causes a rift between the sisters. In her anger, Courtney makes a mistake that threatens to put the company completely out of business, and the girls must rally the community to come to their aid.
Is it any good?
Adults will probably roll their eyes and groan during the first 20 minutes of this movie, and rightly so -- the sisters' flighty, shallow behavior is made overly cute. Worse, their father is a big pushover who punishes them with the slightest hint of a goofy grin on his face -- as if he knows he's supposed to teach them a lesson but can't really get mad at them, even for something serious. The script is overly corny at times, the supporting cast is a bit wooden, and many characters are two-dimensional stereotypes.
But the film is worth watching for the sisters' progression toward becoming responsible adults. You start to care about their plight because they actually start to care about someone besides themselves. That, and the Michalka sisters' charm, knack for comedy, and decent acting ability, makes this a heartwarming tale in the end -- even if their girls' turnaround isn't the most believable. Kids and tweens, especially girls, will enjoy Cow Belles and certainly won't miss the strong message: Be responsible with money, think about others and not just yourself, and learn to admit your mistakes and make up for them.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the changes the sisters undergo. What's positive or negative about their attitudes and the way they live their life when the movie starts? What happens to make them rethink their ways? Do you think it's realistic for people to change so drastically in such a short time? Another discussion topic could be the adults with whom the girls interact. What do you think of the way their father treats them? How does this shape their personalities? How do some of the farm and factory workers become a positive influence on the girls?