Cowgirls ‘n Angels (2012)
Directed by Timothy Armstrong
Produced by Timothy Armstrong, Justin Busfield
Written by Timothy Armstrong, Stephan Blinn
Starring: Bailee Madison, James Cromwell
Genre: Family Drama
This is an example of what I call ‘Christianity in Film – Type 3‘, where a Christian character is portrayed as normal, likable or popular. For example the character will say or do apparently ‘Christian’ things during the film which are treated as a normal part of everyday life and perfectly acceptable. ie: praying, reading the Bible or attending church.
Disclaimer: All examples of ‘Christianity in Film’ are of films NOT marketing themselves as ‘Christian films’. [while this particular film is now being distributed by some ‘Christian’ companies, it does not appear to have had that intent originally – and therefore still fits into my examples of a ‘normal’ film which has a Christian message woven into it.]
“Cowgirls n’ Angels” tells the story of Ida, a feisty and rebellious young girl, who has fantasies of finding her father, a rodeo rider. While searching for her dad, she connects with the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, a team of young female rodeo riders run by former rodeo star Terence Parker. Recognizing Ida’s innate talent for trick riding, Terence recruits her for their ranks. Accepted wholeheartedly by her new ‘family’, Ida finds a new passion that redefines her life — and she also may find the father she’s been searching for.
Where is ‘Christianity’ in this movie?
1. At the beginning of the film the protagonist, a little girl named Ida (Bailee Madison) hides from a security guard in the rodeo stables. There is a medium-sized wooden cross up on the wall of the stables. Immediately a cowboy tells her the security guard is gone and he doesn’t want to catch her hiding again. In other words he shows God’s forgiveness and grace by letting her off the hook. Also here we get a quick glimpse of Augustus (Frankie Faison), an African-American cowboy who wears a silver cross necklace. He watches her talking to a horse saying to it, “All you need is a little love.” – This line setting up the controlling idea of the film.
2. An older cowboy, Terence (James Cromwell) takes responsibility for Ida when she is caught shoplifting. He pays for her ‘purchase’. Another example of showing God’s grace.
3. She takes a joyride on a horse and falls off. She then again encounters both Terence & Augustus. Augustus is still wearing the silver cross.
4. Once she joins the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, she walks along with Augustus when someone greets him with “Hi Preacher”. She asks why they called him ‘Preacher’ and he says, “Well that’s what I am – a rodeo preacher.” She asks if he prays for the animals? He says “Sure… the riders, the animals – anyone who needs help.”
5. After getting caught sneaking into a motel office looking for an address for her dad that she’s never met, Terence gives her a pep talk. He mentions that his wife has died, but he’s not worried as “she’s in good hands”. Implying his belief in God and heaven.
6. During the coming-of-age montage we see the whole team sitting down in anoutdoor chapel where Augustus is giving a church sermon.
7. Augustus counsels one of the other Sweetheart’s of the Rodeo, Rebecca (Kathleen Rose Perkins) as she is wondering if God is really real as her prayers for a sponsor don’t seems to be working. She says, “If God is driving our car, then honestly it seems to me He took a wrong turn a while back.” Augustus then says one of the most powerful lines of the film to her, “I know you believe Rebecca, but believing and trusting is two different things.” She asks him if all her second guessing makes her a fool. Augustus replies, “No… it just means you’ve been given a chance to find out what trust really means.”
This is a nice little family film which my 6 year old daughter loved – she now want’s to be a trick-rider. It’s a good example of a popular Hollywood film which portrays a lonely little girl searching for meaning. This is a normal film which happens to have characters in it who believe in God as part of their normal everyday routine.