A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie intends to entertain rather than to educate, but there are strong themes about love, integrity, and gratitude.
Strong themes about gratitude, integrity, family, faith, and the enduring nature of love. Dolly's family lets adversity draw them closer together rather than tearing them apart, and Christian values guide how they live. Emotional scenes involving the loss of a baby and depression. Bullies torment classmates, teasing and physically intimidating them.
Positive Role Models
Dolly's parents set wonderful examples for their children, putting a premium on hard work, honesty, and strong family values. Even though they have different views on faith, both come to find strength in the concept of a higher power, inspiring Dolly to lead others by her example as well.
Violence & Scariness
Incidents are implied more often than they're shown. A fistfight that leaves a girl with a bloody lip; Dolly's mom spanks her for using strong language; and a teacher smacks her hands with a ruler as punishment for an infraction (it's not shown, but it's audible, and Dolly shows her swollen hands later). Her father plans to whip her with a belt before changing his mind. A young girl holds a knife while kids talk about exacting revenge on a school bully.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A married couple snuggles after having sex (the act isn't shown), and there's mention of physical contact causing a couple to be "in a family way."
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"Hell" and "damn" are heard numerous times. Also name-calling like "yellow-bellied."
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Products & Purchases
The movie is inspired by Dolly Parton's song "Coat of Many Colors," which can be heard at various points throughout the story.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Dolly's father smokes a lot, which was normal for the time, and there's discussion of his drinking moonshine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dolly Parton's Coat of Many Colors is a heartwarming autobiographical movie set during the celebrated actress-singer's childhood. Christian values, Biblical stories, faith, and prayer are central to the story and account for how Dolly's family recovers from tragedy. There are many emotional scenes in which the characters cope with grief and depression, including a very poignant one about an infant's death. Kids may not fully understand some aspects of Dolly's mid-century upbringing, so be prepared to explain things like physical punishment (spanking, slapping hands with a ruler, etc.), the prevalence of smoking, and the family's financial hardships. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This autobiographical story based on Parton's early song of the same name never shies away from the harsh realities of Dolly's upbringing or the resulting faith-based themes. The latter are obvious, with Bible verses and moral words of wisdom oft-quoted in the dialogue, so they're not easily missed, and the tale of Dolly's multi-colored coat is a visual representation of her mother's (and thus, the family's) journey through happiness, despair, and eventual renewal of hope. It's a beautiful story with far-reaching messages about appreciating one's gifts and using them to bless others in turn.
With themes like these, Coat of Many Colors is an excellent choice for family viewing, but there are incidents in the story that may need some context from you if your young kids watch. Dolly's mischievous spirit endears her to viewers, but on a few occasions, it subjects her to physical punishment from her parents and, in one case, her teacher. There's a lot of raw emotion in scenes that deal with Dolly's mother's depression and its effect on the family, as well as the grief journey that follows their shared tragedy. Other features of the time and place -- her father's smoking habit, the fact that many of the kids don't attend school, the financial struggles of a large farming family, etc. -- stand out as unusual compared to modern times as well, but at the same time, it's refreshing to see such an unsanitized story of faith, family love, and overcoming adversity.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.