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Dumplin'

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

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 11 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 8 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHelen M. December 11, 2018

Smart, well-acted comedy delivers laughs and strong message

Parents need to know that this coming of age drama has minimal swearing [mainly s***, and one f***], and little to no sex [save for some minor discussions about... Continue reading
Adult Written byErica C. December 31, 2018

Some interesting twists

Really enjoyed this movie myself. I think one of the things that made it most interesting is that it wasn’t necessarily about relational aggression between gir... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old December 20, 2018

Heart, empowerment, and positive role models in fun Netflix movie!

Dumplin' follows a teen girl named Willowdean (also referred to as Dumplin' by her mother) who struggles from lack of self-confidence regarding her we... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byJoy4winnie December 8, 2018

AMAZING!!!!!!

Really good movie they only say the f word once but then she corrects herself not much else. Tween girls will especially like it and its a GREAT movie. I defini... 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

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Themes & Topics

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