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

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 15 reviews

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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.


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




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."

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.

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, 17 years old Written bystranger things4ever March 1, 2021

An Emotional Film About Body Shaming

I would say this movie is a little emotional. This movie is about a girl named Willowdean Dickson. At the start of the movie Willowdean and her mom Rosie Dickso... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byHeartlandHorses November 15, 2020

Very Good Movie

This is a very good movie with a lot of good actors and actresses. It has many good messages and is very encouraging. There are a few words and scenes that have... 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love family tales

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

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