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Coal Miner's Daughter



Loretta Lynn's tough but heartwarming biopic.
  • Review Date: July 31, 2007
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1980
  • Running Time: 125 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Loretta gets married at 13 and has her first child at 14. Doo tries to control Loretta and is occasionally cruel to her.

Positive role models

Loretta is a strong female figure. She and Patsy Cline are great examples of women who are strong enough to be super-successful in a male-run industry.


Doo rapes Loretta the first time they have sex. Everyone has guns in Butcher's Hollow. A man shoots the moonshiner. Loretta's father spanks her with a switch for going out with Doo all day. Doo slaps Loretta three different times, and threatens to hit her another time. Loretta hits Doo with her purse several times. Doo punches a guy and gets into a brawl at a bar. An overzealous fan rips hair from Loretta's head.


A violent scene of Loretta's first time having sex (though all done under covers and not visible). Loretta is ashamed of sex and doesn't know what "horny" means. She and Doo climb in the back seat of a car, presumably to have sex. Loretta catches Doo kissing another woman in the back seat of a car.


Repeated use of "damn," "s--t," "hell," "goddamn," and "bulls--t."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There's lots of alcohol use here. In Kentucky, lots of people drink moonshine. Doo drinks after work, on the tour bus, and while caring for his kids. Patsy Cline drinks beer while in the hospital. A man adds whiskey to his soda. Loretta takes lots of sleeping pills, though it's unclear whether she's addicted to them.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Loretta and Doo have a volatile relationship. Loretta meets and marries him at 13, and is horrified to have sex with Doo, who's several years older. Doo forces himself on her anyway (in a scene that's under the covers and not visible, but still disturbing). Later, they fight publicly with each other, hitting and slapping each other. There's plenty of alcohol use and abuse here as well. Loretta takes sleeping pills.

What's the story?

Sissy Spacek stars as Loretta Lynn, the oldest daughter of eight born to a coal miner and his wife in Appalachia. Loretta is the apple of her father's eye, but when Loretta falls for military veteran Doolittle (Tommy Lee Jones), who's at least 10 years her senior, Loretta's dad has to let her go. He only makes Doo promise to "don't never heart her and don't take her off far from home." Doo has done both. Fourteen and pregnant, Loretta suddenly finds herself far from Kentucky, living with her children and Doo in Washington state. The only thing that comforts her is her singing. Doo wants to share her beautiful voice with the world. At his insistence, Loretta sings at honkytonks, makes her own album, and travels around to DJs to promote the album. When it pays off and Loretta is being compared to icons like Patsy Cline (Beverly D'Angelo), can they keep their marriage together and can Doo cope with being less important than his superstar wife?

Is it any good?


Music biopics are always compelling. Ray and Walk the Line both were nominated for and won Oscars. Kids today may not know much about Loretta Lynn, but they'll learn a lot -- and have fun -- watching COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER, the biopic of her life that won Spacek an Academy Award.

Given where Loretta comes from, it's amazing to see her rise to superstardom. It's also amazing to see the strength and confidence she shows to stand up in a honkytonk full of men and become their "girl singer." But Spacek's Loretta is complex: She's alternately meek and fiery with her husband. She's got an inner strength that's belied by her delicate voice and features. And director Michael Apted does a good job of including small moments that make Doo and Loretta's relationship real. And unlike more recent music biopics, Coal Miner's Daughter isn't soaked in cold-turkey rehab and horrible drug addiction. Like its star, the film is beautiful, quiet, charismatic, and gentle.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how different life was when Loretta was a teen than it is now. Why did she get married at 13? If you liked someone at 13 would you want to get married? Would you want to have a child at 14? What do you think about Loretta and Doo's relationship? Is it healthy? What does a healthy relationship look like? What other movies show troubled relationships? How about healthy ones?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:August 1, 1980
DVD release date:September 13, 2005
Cast:Beverly D'Angelo, Sissy Spacek, Tommy Lee Jones
Director:Michael Apted
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:History, Music and sing-along
Run time:125 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bykidinsollege February 17, 2012

This story speaks to the heart and contains enough truths about relationships

Tells the life story of Loretta Lynn and her about their rags-to-riches life of with depictions of career obstacles, marital conflicts, and battles with prescription drugs,the difficulties of show business. This story speaks to the heart and contains enough truths about relationships to make it collectively inspirational.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing


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