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Adventures of Pepper & Paula
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Adventures of Pepper & Paula is an entertaining movie based on the real life of champion gunslinger Pistol Packin' Paula. It has some brief suspense when Paula is in a car accident -- which is not shown, but the flipped-over vehicle is -- and many scenes of shoot-outs and gunfights staged for a Wild West show Paula puts on. There's lots of gun twirling, tricks, and entertainment featuring dog Pepper, as well as messages about working hard and doing your best via a strong female lead, but young kids, especially girls, may not benefit much from the continuous subplot about a conniving woman who uses her sexuality and flirtation to muscle in on Paula's gig. The result is an overall message of empowerment somewhat undermined by petty jealousies between two women.
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What's the story?
Pistol Packin' Paula's (Mindy Raymond) show is going well, and her newfound friend, dog Pepper, makes for a great addition to the lineup. Paula has even met a guy, Malcolm (Donny Boaz), who loves what she does and wants to write a book with her about her adventures. But when the ranch adds interloper Lula Belle to the lineup and a terrible accident hinders Paula's physical abilities, it's unclear whether the show will go on or if Paula will have to walk away from all she's ever known.
Is it any good?
ADVENTURES OF PEPPER & PAULA has a premise kids will love: a gunslinger with cool tricks and an adorable dog by her side. The shows the ranch puts on are fun, and after each event Paula talks to kids about why practice makes perfect, mistakes are OK, and the only way to fail in life is by never trying in the first place.
Those are great messages for girls, but some of the subplots fleshing out the rest of the movie may not only fail to hold kids' attention but also seem to undermine the girl-power vibes. In large part, it's the focus on a rivalry between Paula and Lula Belle, a performer brought on sheerly for her sexiness and flirtation, that may foster stereotypes about female competition, and Paula's remarks throughout that Lula Belle is only there to "show some skin" may inadvertently teach girls to shame other girls for how they dress. It's a consistent-enough plot point to give pause to parents of very young kids, especially girls, who are subjected enough as it is to such negative images and messages.
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