Coal Miner's Daughter

Movie review by
Heather Boerner, Common Sense Media
Coal Miner's Daughter Movie Poster Image
Loretta Lynn's tough but heartwarming biopic.
  • PG
  • 1980
  • 125 minutes

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 2 reviews

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

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 & Representations

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."

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byDory14 February 2, 2020

Old favourite

I watched this film in the eighties as a child around 13 and it stayed with me. I recently watched it with my daughter and i had to fast forward the wedding nig... Continue reading
Adult 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 prescr... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous September 12, 2020

I love the movie so much!

My father showed this to me at 10 or 11, and while there is talk of sex and some drug references, that stuff is outshined by how heartwarming, and, at some poin... Continue reading

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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