A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Cowgirls n' Angels is a family drama appropriate for tweens and mature kids who can handle the theme of a girl searching for the father she's never known. The 12-year-old protagonist makes some questionable decisions in her search, but she's shown the error of her ways and ultimately learns how loved she is despite the circumstances. One secondary character has a romance, and she and her beau drink beers and kiss a couple of times. The language includes a few minor insults ("damn" and "hell"), and the violence features rodeo injuries and a hospitalized older man. Ida is a strong, precocious heroine, and her journey proves that with persistence and discipline, even the seemingly impossible is achievable.
What's the story?
Ida Clayton (Bailee Madison) is a precocious 12-year-old living in Oklahoma. She calls herself "half-orphaned," because her single mother (Alicia Witt) never mentions Ida's presumably deadbeat dad. Ida, however, has a postcard that proves his name is Walker and that he at one point worked for a rodeo. With this scarce information, Ida decides to scope out the local rodeo circuit and even joins the Sweethearts team of female trick riders coached by the kindly Terence Parker (James Cromwell), who knew her late grandfather. With the help of her new teammates, Ida continues to search for her father and even convinces herself that if she becomes a top rodeo attraction, he'll want to meet her.
Is it any good?
Although her Southern accent is spotty, Madison is charming enough to carry this family drama with the help of supporting characters like Cromwell and Witt. Played by a different child performer, Ida could easily have been intolerable, but in Madison's hands, she's the kind of underdog you can't help but root for, even when she's being a supremely misguided pest. There's something about how plucky (and, yes, a teensy bit devious) Ida is to find her father that will endear her to younger audiences.
The Sweethearts subplot offers tween girls the benefit of a romantic storyline between Kansas (Friday Night Lights alum Dora Madison Burge) and a handsome cowboy (Twilight vampire Jackson Rathbone) who becomes smitten with the rodeo gal. Their slightly forbidden love story isn't dazzling high drama, but there's just enough to hook in the 11-13 set. While sentimental movies can be a hard sell for some parents, COWGIRLS N' ANGELS at least boasts good performances and a tender message for both parents and kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether Cowgirls n' Angels is consistent with the typical adventure of a child looking for her missing parent. Is Ida like other plucky young heroines?
Ida does some pretty unethical things in her search for her father. Is it appropriate to show such a young girl lying, shoplifting, and blatantly disobeying her mother? How is she redeemed in the story?
Why do you think "girls who love horses" movies are so popular? Which are some of the best horse films, and how does Cowgirls n' Angels compare?
- In theaters: May 25, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: October 2, 2012
- Cast: Bailee Madison, Jackson Rathbone, James Cromwell
- Director: Timothy Armstrong
- Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Company
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Horses and Farm Animals
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic elements and brief language
Themes & Topics
Browse titles with similar subject matter.
For kids who love horses
Our editors recommend
Top advice and articles
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.