Tommy and the Cool Mule

Movie review by
Tracy Moore, Common Sense Media
Tommy and the Cool Mule Movie Poster Image
Feel-good talking mule movie deals with parental loss.
  • PG
  • 2009
  • 94 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Tommy and the Cool Mule offers positive messages about doing one's duty, and that money does not make the person.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Many adult characters are present, honest, and fair. Some of the teenagers are kind-hearted and care about doing the right thing. Others seem easily swayed by persuasive bad seeds, but try to do the right thing in the face of enormous peer pressure.


There are some mischief-related and slapstick injuries. In one scene, a woman slams a door in a man's face, hitting his head. In another, a game of paintball knocks loose a two by four in an old barn that slams down on a teenager's head. 


A man and woman briefly kiss and embrace. A teenage boy and girl kiss.


There's no profanity, but plenty of clever teenage insults of the "punk," "bottomfeeder," "slug," and "lizard face" variety.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Two women sip margaritas at a pool party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the premise of Tommy and the Cool Mule involves parental loss. The main character, a teenage boy, has lost his father in military combat. His death is not shown in the film but is referred to and reflected on, and the loss of his income drives many of the family's choices. The film also features budding romance between teenagers and adults, and isn't afraid of a flatulence gag or four. There's also some name-calling and mischief-related injuries.

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What's the story?

Tommy (Grant Barker) has just lost his father, and now his family has to sell their beloved horses to get by. But when he makes a friend in a talking mule, Jackie-A (voiced by Ice-T), he may have a chance at winning a stock competition and a cash prize that will keep their house out of the hands of a scheming local realtor (Kevin Sorbo). But can he fend off the no-good competition that's busy hatching schemes to keep him out of the running?

Is it any good?

TOMMY AND THE COOL MULE has a down-home, simple vibe to it, with kids and parents played by actors who, for the most part, look kid-like and not actor-like. But more importantly, in spite of a premise that involves a head injury and a talking mule, it depicts adolescent concerns and the pressures teens face in a fairly believable and age-appropriate manner. Though it's mostly a boy-centric movie, it shows girls who ride horses well and a sibling who mostly tries to get along with his sister, all with none of the typically underhanded messages about what boys or girls can (or can't) do. 

Kids will enjoy the horse-wrangling, conversing, and the realistic portrayals of peer pressure. And parents will appreciate the low-key, but realistic, resolution. It isn't anything groundbreaking, but overall, the movie has a good heart, where no one is ridiculously evil, or cartoonishly pure, and everything turns out just fine.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about peer pressure. Have you ever been pressured to do something by a friend you didn't want to do? How did you handle it? What happened as a result?

  • Go online to talk about the ways military families cope with the absence, or sometimes loss, of a parent due to military service.

Movie details

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Themes & Topics

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