Big Stone Gap

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Big Stone Gap Movie Poster Image
Flat comedy about small-town '70s life lacks laughs.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 103 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

It's never too late to chase your dreams.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ave Maria has grown up taking care of other people while neglecting her own needs; she eventually realizes that she’s entitled to happiness, too.


Heated arguments.


A couple kisses passionately; one partner discusses her desire to "make love to that man." A long-term relationship becomes a source of gossip because the man "wants to wait," sparking some veiled references to his sexual preferences.


Very infrequent swearing includes "ass" and "screw."



Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking, plus one big wedding where the bride and groom are both falling-down drunk. A few characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Big Stone Gap is a romantic comedy starring Ashley Judd that's focused on life in a Virginia coal-mining town in the late 1970s. Overall this story about living life and pursuing your dreams (fi you can figure out what they are) is quite mild: Expect some sexual innuendo (including speculation about a character's sexual preferences) and kissing and very infrequent swearing (including "ass" and "screw"). Some characters smoke cigarettes and drink, including a weeding scene in which a bride and groom are almost too wasted to make it down the aisle.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bygina S. December 28, 2016

a sweet love story

a full star cast with a sweet love story. the stars should have been Jenna Elfman and Paul Wilson. They stole the show. I think some of the best scenes may have... Continue reading

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Ave Maria Mulligan (Ashley Judd) has spent her entire life in BIG STONE GAP, a Virginia coal-mining town where everyone knows everyone else. As the owner of the local pharmacy, she's used to taking care of her customers' ailments, but eventually she realizes that she's neglected herself -- and now that she's 40, she'd better figure out what she needs, and quickly.

Is it any good?

The town of Big Stone Gap seems like a nice enough place to live, if you don't have very big dreams or much desire to see what's going on in the rest of the world; the film is about the same. It's narrowly focused on a very small slice of life, which may appeal to some viewers, but many others may find it slow. All the characters are pleasant enough, though none of them are very complex or well fleshed-out. Even Ave Maria, the main character, seems like a blank page, waiting for a random series of plot complications to be inscribed.

The basic story is simple, with Ave Maria uncovering some long-buried family secrets. But each chapter feels like a totally different tale, without much to connect them and little to propel the plot or maintain viewers' interest. None of the characters ever leaps off the screen, and the film doesn't give us much reason to care about them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Big Stone Gap's messages. Why is it important to live life for yourself? Is it ever too late to start following your dreams?

  • What do you think about the film's portrayal of living in a small town in the 1970s? Does it feel accurate? Was life really simpler back then? Why do you think people are so often nostalgic for earlier eras?

  • How is drinking portrayed in the movie? Are there realistic consequences?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romantic comedies

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate