A Cowgirl's Story

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
A Cowgirl's Story Movie Poster Image
Predictable faith-based drama has bullying, heavy themes.
  • PG
  • 2017
  • 98 minutes

Parents say

age 7+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Stand up for yourself and for others who can't stand up for themselves. It's important to serve your country.

Positive Role Models & Representations

A man steals a valuable baseball card, a legacy left with him for safekeeping by his partner. He keeps the card, and the wealth it represents, from the man's widow and daughter, who have been evicted from their home. Dusty stands up against bullies and doesn't feel the need to change herself just so others will accept her. Dusty raises money to support troops in Afghanistan, then raises money to start an equestrian club at school.



Teens tell a Muslim girl to "go home." A lieutenant is wounded in Afghanistan and returns with head and leg injuries. A pilot's helicopter goes down in Afghanistan and it takes search parties days to find her. She returns home uninjured. A horse dies of an illness. A girl's military father dies in combat. She tries to steal back something that belongs to her family and is sent to juvenile detention.


Teens kiss.


"Heck" and "butt."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

High school seniors drink alcohol at school out of a brown paper bag.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Cowgirl's Story touches on many common teen issues, including bullying, starting at a new school, and trying to fit in. But the movie's backdrop highlights problems particular to military personnel deployed overseas, and the sacrifices they and their families make in the name of service to country. (The film is dedicated to those who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.) This takes the plot beyond ordinary teen angst and also raises issues about the loss of loved ones and the dangers of war. In this case, a teen's Army Ranger father is deployed and wounded abroad and her Army pilot mother's helicopter goes down in Afghanistan, also providing tense moments. A beloved horse dies. Prejudice against Muslims is displayed and denounced, and both grand and petty theft are featured. The movie carries a message that miracles are possible with strong faith in a Christian God.  

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 15 years old Written byKitty Galore March 30, 2019
It's a very touching movie and it teaches you to appreciate what you have, you never know when that can end. I believe people should see this because incl... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byflglantz May 19, 2018

Heartfelt story that brings a family together

I did not think this movie was going to be great but I decided to watch it because I knew Chloe Lukasiak from Dance Moms. Let me say that I was completely wron... Continue reading

What's the story?

After her mother is sent to Afghanistan as an Army helicopter pilot and her dad is reassigned to another base in the States, Dusty Rhodes (Bailee Madison) goes to live with her grandfather (Pat Boone) in A COWGIRL'S STORY. At 17, she is plucky and outgoing, full of self-esteem and proud of her cowgirl ways even though they earn her ridicule when she starts at her new high school. "I definitely don't want to fit in if it means being a sniveling, insecure sheep," she proudly observes. Soon her high spirits and disarming honesty draw in friends who support her as she creates an equestrian club and worries about her missing-in-action mother. Loss and compassion are themes. Dusty's beloved horse dies, and she defends a Muslim classmate when ignorant bullies taunt the girl.  

Is it any good?

This movie get high marks for neatness as every plot twist and conflict is tied neatly in a ridiculously perfect bow in a manner that bears absolutely no resemblance to reality. The necessity for belief in a Christian God is heavily touted here and miracles abound. Dusty's trusty horse dies and another almost magically replaces it, no visible money changing hands. A high school refuses to sponsor an equestrian team and, lickety-split, the tenacious Dusty raises the thousands necessary to supply horses, feed, and training so teammates who have never ridden before can perform flawlessly in what seems to be only minutes later. A thief admits his thievery and returns the valuable item he's taken. A cruel and dismissive mother becomes supportive and loving. A racist apologizes to the Muslim he's been bullying. A wounded soldier returns home to the daughter he left behind, battered but fine. Dusty's helicopter pilot mom goes down in a crash but miraculously makes it home unscathed. All the while, Grandpa, a military chaplain, advises that God will take care of everything if skeptic Dusty can only have faith, and not halfway kind of faith, but all-the-way kind of faith.

For this reason, A Cowgirl's Story is best appreciated by those who share the religious views the movie highlights. The themes may be a little heavy for sensitive kids, as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the sacrifices that members of the military and their families make in their efforts to defend the U.S. How would you feel if your parents had to go off to war and leave you back home?

  • Dusty stands up against bullies and doesn't feel the need to change herself just so others will accept her. She appears not to allow bullies and critics to hurt her feelings. Many teenagers want to "fit in" and be liked by their peers. Why do you think Dusty doesn't care?

  • This is a faith-based title. Do you think the movie appeals only to believers, or can anyone enjoy it? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horses

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