A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
When faced with difficult, life-changing decisions, it is best to follow your heart.
Positive Role Models
Lucy Whipple is an avid reader who uses her knowledge to help her friends when they are in need. Her mother is a strong-willed woman determined to make a life for herself and her family in Lucky Diggins, California, after the death of her husband, and through the many hardships she faces throughout the movie.
Violence & Scariness
Early in the film, one of the characters commits suicide. A gunshot is heard, and sprayed blood is visible on the fabric of the man's tent. Characters fight while drinking in the saloon. An old man attempts to molest a 14-year-old girl. He begins to touch her on her arm, hair, and shoulders, and as she attempts to escape, he grabs her. This old man is punched out by another character. This same old man is found dead in the river. His body is shown in the coffin, and his wife is accused and put on trial for her murder. A small mining town catches fire; as the citizens of the town attempt to put out the fire, fire spreads to the back of one of the men, who is rescued from burning by another man who covers him in a blanket.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
There is one extended kiss between consenting adults.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Infrequent profanity: "Damn," "Sons-a-bitches," "massa-two-s--ts," and a young boy refers to liquor as "panther piss."
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
In line with a western set in 1850, characters are fond of drinking in a saloon, which is the setting for rare arguments, fights.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Ballad of Lucy Whipple is set during the California gold rush in the mid-19th century, so there are miners who drink, fight, and curse. There are several violent and disturbing scenes including a suicide, where blood is visible, and inappropriate touching on the arm and hair of a 14-year-old girl by an older man. Issues of slavery, death, and the difficulties of frontier life are frankly discussed. While some of scenes are a bit too intense for tweens, viewers in their teens and older might find some interesting discussion topics from what it's like for families to move someplace new to how people cope with the loss of loved ones to the harsh realities of those who moved to California during the gold rush. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
THE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE is an above-average made-for-TV movie from 2001. It deserves some accolades for not sugarcoating the harsh realities of those who moved to California during the gold rush of the mid-19th century. Death, slavery, suicide, domestic abuse, and more are frankly depicted. While many movies about the Gold Rush tend to go right to the moment when the prospector finds the gold in them thar hills, The Ballad of Lucy Whipple prefers to talk about the day-to-day survival of the miners, and a young girl attempting to get used to (and maybe even eventually like) her new surroundings.
The story is less of a straight narrative and more a series of adventures involving Lucy and her interactions with those around her. Wilford Brimley makes a brief appearance as a county sheriff who is (you guessed it) irascible and crotchety. The acting as a whole is well done. Fans of westerns, as well as fans of independent-minded teenage girls growing up in changed surroundings, will enjoy this one.
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.