Dumplin'

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Dumplin' Movie Poster Image
 Parents recommend
Funny, romantic, insightful teen tale has a little swearing.
  • PG-13
  • 2018
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 9 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Primary message summed up in the Dolly Parton tagline: "Find out who you are, and do it on purpose!" Promotes positive self-image, forgiveness, friendship, empathy, actively asserting your uniqueness. Reinforces acceptance of diversity and atypical body size: "Every body is a swimsuit body."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Seemingly confident plus-size teen heroine keeps her insecurities to herself until she takes steps to challenge cultural norms. Result is the onset of true self-esteem, acceptance, empathy for others. Some played-for-humor stereotyping of beauty pageant participants, Southerners, drag queens, a non-"girly" teenage girl. Diversity within the cast.

Violence

Off-camera punch in a teen boy's groin. Bullying and fat-shaming. Some arguing/heated exchanges.

Sex

Kissing. 

Language

Swearing includes one use of "f--k" and a couple instances of "s--t," plus "hell," "damn," "ta-tas," "butts." Occasional name-calling and fat-shaming: "whale," "pig" (accompanied by snorts), "fat ass."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teens are seated in a bar but aren't served alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Dumplin' is a fun, inspirational comedy -- with a dramatic core -- about a plus-size teen (Danielle Macdonald) who challenges cultural norms when she signs up for the small-town Texas beauty pageant that her mother (Jennifer Aniston) manages. Based on Julie Murphy's 2015 YA book, the movie has lots to say about body image, self-confidence, empathy, acceptance, diversity, and tricky mother-daughter relationships. The humor, some of it based on good-natured stereotyping (Southerners, drag queens), is finely balanced with serious issues that are treated with insight and empathy. There's a bit of swearing, including "f--k" once and "s--t" twice. Fat-shaming (e.g., "whale," "pig") and bullying are also key elements of the story. The heroine punches a bully in the groin. Three teens are seated in a bar, though they aren't served alcohol. Expect a few romantic kisses and a troupe of supportive drag entertainers. A special highlight of the movie is the inclusion of Dolly Parton as an (offscreen) icon; her music serves as the movie's primary score.

Wondering if Dumplin' is OK for your kids?

Set preferences and get age-appropriate recommendations with Common Sense Media Plus. Join now

Continue reading Show less

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byK8favre January 30, 2019

Great Mother Daughter Movie

This was a great movie to to watch together! The relationships between characters are deep and grow in the film. I appreciate the body positivity and strong mes... Continue reading
Parent of a 14-year-old Written byMaria20 May 5, 2019

Fun comedy, treating a serious subject with positive values and messages

I was very pleasantly surprised by this movie, which I expected to be a light comedy. It isn't. It treats the subject of overweight teens, not only address... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byEllie C May 4, 2019

Well directed empowering story

Great plot and an even greater message. Bring the tissues for some touching mother daughter scenes. Loved this movie!
Teen, 13 years old Written byGentrie_Bradford April 5, 2019

Very Inspiring

I loved this movie! There is a little swearing involving f*ck but she corrects herself immediately. They meet together in a bar where there is drinking and Wil... Continue reading

What's the story?

As DUMPLIN' opens, Willowdean "Will" Dickson (Danielle Macdonald) has recently lost her beloved Aunt Lucy (Hilliary Begley). Willowdean and Lucy had a special relationship that was cemented by a mutual Love (with a capital "L") for Dolly Parton. Both plus-size, Will and Lucy valued, loved, and protected each other, while Rosie (Jennifer Aniston) -- Will's mom -- has never let go of her teen beauty-queen ideals. Now in charge of the "Miss Teen Bluebonnet" pageant, Rosie loves her daughter but can't help being disappointed in not having given birth to "pageant material." In fact, she calls Willowdean "Dumplin'," which makes the girl cringe in embarrassment. At a low moment in their relationship, Will rebels. She throws caution (and self-consciousness) to the wind and, along with her loyal best friend, Ellen (Odeya Rush), signs up to compete for the title of Miss Teen Bluebonnet to show Rosie up. Will's bravado inspires two other atypical teens to sign up, too. What begins as a protest takes the feisty heroine and her friends on a journey of self-discovery and eye-opening new experiences, turning small-town Texas on its heels (stilettos, for sure).

Is it any good?

Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, and always about self-acceptance, this movie will make you laugh and warm your heart. Rising above some predictability, stereotyping, and dispensable profanity, Dumplin' delivers bright performances (especially from the very talented Macdonald), sparkling musical numbers, a solid story, and a resolution that, while not surprising, is more than satisfying. Teens who are enjoying the profusion of romcoms now streaming, many of them on Netflix, will find Dumplin' a cut above the rest. It's recommended, particularly as a shared experience. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can discuss Dumplin's rallying cry (credited to Dolly Parton): "Find out who you are, and do it on purpose." What does that mean? In what way(s) is the concept relevant for you?

  • Is Willowdean a role model? Why or why not? Do the filmmakers portray her appearance with dignity? What about Aunt Lucy? Millie?

  • It's often challenging for movies to blend humor and drama. How did the filmmakers use humor to heighten the serious issues here?

  • If you've read the book, which did you like better? Why?

  • How does the movie show the character strength of empathy?

Movie details

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

For kids who love family tales

Our editors recommend

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