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Vincent Schilling

Indian Country Today

“Cowboys” is one of the latest features released to video on demand and I had the pleasure to watch it about two weeks ago.

The story follows a father named Troy (Steve Zahn) and his trans son Joe (Sasha Knight) who embark on a journey through the wilderness due to continued judgment and resistance by Joe’s mother Sally (Jillian Bell).

The father and son team head out and run into Robert Spottedbird (Gary Farmer) who offers them a bit of brief refuge before their journey.

Here is my review below:


8.0 out of 10

My quick quote: “A complex story, but it is a bit predictable, even if the storyline hasn’t been addressed in the film industry for the most part. Truth told, I couldn’t get past the bad extensions”

Cowboys Poster

A troubled but well-intentioned father who has recently separated from his wife runs off with his trans son into the Montana wilderness after his ex-wife's refusal to let their son live as his authentic self.

The combination of main cast members Steve Zahn, Jillian Bell, Sasha Knight and Gary Farmer did an excellent job.

Zahn, who plays the father Troy, does an excellent job of maintaining a sense of dire need, wanting to protect his son and hanging by a thread of trying to maintain his mental stability after his medication is scarce.

Troy and Joe have great chemistry in the movie and Jillian Bell as Sally also does a great job of asserting herself as a close-minded, yet well-intentioned mother who continues to cause increasingly emotional damage on Joe.

Gary Farmer one-ups the authorities and the way he carries himself in the film is greatly satisfying.

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Is “Cowboys” worth watching?

The short answer is yes, absolutely. There are excellent chemistry and collaborative energies in the film that helps bring it to a nice conclusion while addressing the issue of the importance of loving a transgender child — without judgment — to the film viewers in this world.

With all of the film’s great approaches to a sensitive issue, there was one thing, and thought it might be a small thing — I just couldn’t let it go.

Watch the movie first then come back and read this

Ok, the “one thing” I just couldn’t get over, were Sasha Knight’s weird blond extensions at the beginning of the movie.

They looked strangely fake, and I kept asking myself, ‘why wouldn’t they use a wig?’ Admittedly this is a small thing. And perhaps I am a bit OCD in terms of noticing small issues like that, but I literally couldn’t let it go for a large part of the movie.

I am interested in your take. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter or via email.

All said

All said I liked the movie. Steve Zahn did a wonderful job as did everyone else. I look forward to more projects from director Anna Kerrigan and I am once again grateful to see an actual Native actor in a film such as the icon Gary Farmer.

A nice film with a nice resolution and way of addressing an important issue I appreciated.

Now available on streaming platforms such as Google Play, VUDU and Amazon Prime

Native Nerd Phone

Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is associate editor of Indian Country Today who enjoys creating media, technology, computers, comics, and movies. He is a film critic and writes the #NativeNerd column. Twitter @VinceSchilling. Email: he is also the opinions’ editor,

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