Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo (2010) - Rotten Tomatoes

Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo (2010)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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'Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo' goes behind prison walls to follow convict cowgirls on their journey to the 2007 Oklahoma State Penitentiary Rodeo. In 2006, female inmates were allowed to participate for the first time. In a state with the highest female incarceration rate in the country, these women share common experiences such as broken homes, drug abuse and alienation from their children. Since 1940, the Oklahoma State Penitentiary has held an annual 'Prison Rodeo'. Part Wild West show and part coliseum-esque spectacle, it's one of the last of its kind - a relic of the American penal system. Prisoners compete on wild-broncs and bucking bulls, risking life-long injuries. For inmates like Danny Liles, a 14-year veteran of the rodeo, the chance to battle livestock offers a brief respite from prison life. Within this strange arena the prisoners become the heroes while the public and guards applaud.-- (C) Official Site
Documentary , Special Interest
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Critic Reviews for Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo

All Critics (6) | Top Critics (3)

Informally sketched but deeply felt...

Full Review… | September 24, 2010
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

These are vivid, flawed, even introspective characters. And they're classic American strivers. With rodeo, but not just that, they hope to go beyond where they have been.

Full Review… | September 17, 2010
New York Times
Top Critic

There's enough rosy-cheeked drama, triumph, and sacrifice for a ready-made Hollywood remake.

Full Review… | September 14, 2010
Village Voice
Top Critic

Interesting but uncritically naïve look at male and female convicts in Oklahoma, competing in one of the nation's last two prison rodeos.

Full Review… | October 4, 2010
Film Journal International

There's a potentially more interesting follow-up doc ghosting right behind this one.

Full Review… | September 16, 2010
Austin Chronicle

Throughout, the film circles around the sociological significance of the rodeo.

Full Review… | September 15, 2010
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo

I've seen a couple prison rodeo documentaries (I'm still waiting on a prison boxing or football documentary) & they all seem to be the same.Sweethearts has to be the best of the bunch.It not only had just the female inmates but the male inmates in it as well which made it more interesting then the other 1's out there

Brody Manson
Brody Manson

Super Reviewer


"Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo" is an illuminating, yet repetitive, documentary about the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo, the only rodeo held behind bars that has been operating since 1940. And 2006 is the first year women have been allowed to compete. What's stated is the possibility that the audience views this as gladiatorial combat, especially Make Money the Hard Way,(Trust me. They are not kidding.) and want to see blood. Me personally, I root for everybody to do well in the rodeo, and that rooting interest carries over into the convicts' everyday lives, hoping they turn them around. Actually, a good deal of the documentary deals with the women's lives outside of the arena behind bars. Of all states, Oklahoma has the highest incarceration rate and jails the highest percentage of women, 80% of whom are mothers. One person links their toughness to getting in trouble with the law but a lot of that toughness comes from surviving behind bars, separated from loved ones. Actually, jail time can be arbitrary and a lot of these women are in jail on drug charges.(One has been in jail for 13 years for murder and is now up for parole.) The rodeo serves as a form of positive reinforcement, strange as that may seem to those too frightened to ever think of riding a bull.(And the documentary provides another good reason not to.) In fact, the rodeo provides a jolt of adrenaline and a break in a nearly endless routine, not to mention for a very brief space of time, a taste of freedom.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

As someone who works in Corrections, I really felt this film did a great job of showing how recreational activities can be an incentive for good behavior in the prison system. You get a grasp of how much it means to the inmates to have something to look forward to all year long, and to be able to compete and win something gives them a sense of accomplishment. This film also allows you to see into the lives of the inmates, what they did to get to prison and also how they have changed. There are some touching moments as some people are reunited with family for the first time in years. This film may be called Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo, but it is about so much more than the competition.

SW brooks
SW brooks

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