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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From practically the opening scene, I wanted to slap this girl silly. Nobody but a 12-year-old girl should find "Flicka" appealing, and I would recommend against letting any 12-year-old girl see it, because it rewards bad behavior and sets a terrible example. She's not "rebellious," she's a brat: arguing with her father in a business meeting (what on earth was she doing there in the first place?), disobeying direct commands and being generally unpleasant. The father was an ineffective disciplinarian and the mother spineless. This movie stands up only as an example of how NOT to be a parent. The only redeeming quality the movie had at all was that the rest of the family truly seemed to love each other deeply and had no problem showing it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Unfortunately, we did not read a review of Flicka before taking our three children. Our 13-year old son commented during the movie about the father/son shoving scene. Our 9-year old daughter told us how disappointed she was that the girl was rebellious with no consequences for that behavior (in fact, she is rewarded), and our 16-year old said it was too sappy for her taste. I liked the music, the scenery, and the horses. The acting was good too, but the theme is counter to what we think are important values: integrity, respect for one another, and healthy communication. We own a paint horse and it is no where as big as the one portrayed in this movie. Was "Flicka" in fact a mustang?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an extremely conventional, exactly-what-you-would-expect family
film, which paints by the numbers, but unfortunately can't count higher
than about 5. There is one absolutely terrific "movie moment": when
Flicka is being hauled off, with Katie running down a dirt road
screaming for Flicka . . . it starts to rain. No warning, no dark
clouds before--it just starts to rain at just the right moment. It was
so hokey--I loved it.
And then, when Katie develops 105-degree fever in the space of a couple hours and is unconscious, her dad (Tim McGraw) has a BIG scene. And this is after the big scene where the feverish and heavily made-up Katie comes down the stairs like Regan in The Exorcist and tells Dad something very touching.
The acting was very uninspired. Not awful, just not very interesting. This probably is best illustrated in McGraw's performance. In Friday Night Lights, he showed that with good direction, he could be a very interesting actor. Here, he was nothing more than passable.
I thought this movie was terrible. Katie (the main character) is a
miserable, thoughtless, rude brat who doesn't care who she hurts in her
quest to get her own way. I think this is supposed to pass for
"free-spirited", but I just couldn't like her at all. It's no wonder
they sent her off to boarding school and kept her less selfish brother
around the ranch.
The directing is lacking. I found myself wondering why, for example, I was watching people line dance for a while, and why they went swimming at one point. It didn't go together smoothly and there are many parts that just don't seem to go into the movie very well. There are some creepy parts where one of the ranch hands appears to have a crush on Katie, but that's also there for no reason.
The acting is really pretty good and some of the scenes of the horses and the mountains are breathtaking.
The theme itself is one that most of us will love, but my advice: If you like stories about how the history of the west was written on or by horses, watch "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron" -- it's infinitely better.
This movie, while it was a good story, was horribly acted. At best, it can be described as over and under acted, which is quite an accomplishment. It's obvious that Tim McGraw as limited acting ability and Maria Bello's performance it quite disappointing. It must be stated that the script was as equally terrible as the acting that accompanied it.The best part of the movie is its visible stimulation. The movie location, Wyoming, is stunning and it must be said that the film's makers certainly choose the right locale. But that is as far as the goodness goes. I hear that"Flicka" is based on a book. My advice, skip the movie and read the book. It has to be better than this pile of crap on film.
This story in its original incarnation had some appeal. Coming of age,
proving one's self, contact with nature which in the original story
was clearly conflated with confronting wild adolescent hormones. This
was also the case of the "girl's" version "National Velvet" filmed
immediately after the first, 1943, film of "My Friend Flicka."
Both of those new-sex-as-wild-horse stories were sappy and ordinary on the surface, but solid enough to last, to (almost) become a classics. Now see what has happened here: this fairly simple natural form has been beset upon by wildcats who have shredded it, turning it into the opposite of what it wants to be.
In the original form, the parents are simply dim but good. Everyone in the story is baffled by puberty, and only differ on how to handle it. In this disemboweled version, the girl is simply wild. She was wild before, during and presumably after we see her. Her dumbfounded parents only know how to fight, not to counsel. In the original, at the end is a harmony, a merging of child and beast where the beast is tamed and controllable and the child now empowered.
In this mortally wounded carcass, the girl wants to remain wild. We know she will be promiscuous, live unhappily (probably creating some new unhappy kids) and die. We know she will be sick or wounded but defiant in every event in her life. We know her parents will comply eventually to every request and wonder why they should be so cursed.
What a strange thing to celebrate harmful obstinacy. I suppose it is one legacy of how we sell presidents in the US.
And the cinematography. I found it ordinary in every respect.
Ted's Evaluation -- 1 of 3: You can find something better to do with this part of your life.
Mary O'Hara must be doing spins in her grave! It was bad enough what
Hollywood did originally to her books (all three of them in the series)
without this version hitting the screen. This was not a "kid's book"
(I've seen the reference...obviously from someone who never read the
books); it was a series of books about the complex relationships of a
family living in 1940's Wyoming: A loving mother, father, TWO sons, and
an infant daughter. The father/son conflict between the younger son and
the father, and the relationship between the brothers, Ken and Howard,
were well crafted; as was the very deep (and at times) troubled love
relationship between Rob and Nell. What could have been a sweeping
family saga was turned into a sappy boy loves horse opus for Roddy
McDowell (great actor!), shortly after his successes in the Lassie boy
loves dog films.
Just once, I'd like to see Hollywood get it right. If the book ain't broke, don't fix it!!
I saw the film with grandkids Saturday Oct 21st here in Ontario, having
read our colleague tollini's lead review (only). I, too, loved the
movie and can report that the mixed audience (kids, teens, parents) was
very quiet, and did not stir throughout. A 'youngster' with a horse on
an ol' ranch is an ancient Hollywood concept (the original film 'My
Friend Flicka' - available for review here at IMDb, was released in
1943). It's surprising that a modern 'sophisticated' audience can be
entertained by it -- who says you can't sell pure story-telling any
more? (--: Yes, there's conflict in the story - isn't that what
intrigues us about great tales? This family does have respect and
affection for one another, though - it is not mean-spirited. I mention
this because L. Braun of the Tor-Sun 'dissed' the movie because of the
conflict twixt dad and daughter, viewing this as a poor role-model!
It was interesting to see this story presented with the parents being youngish and attractive, despite having teenage children. I liked T. McGraw as the dad - but I couldn't help but picture Chris Cooper (of a few years ago - sorry, Chris!) as the ideal guy for the role.
I must concur with tollini that '..The cinematography and art direction are exceptional. You are actually there in Wyoming and can understand why people never want to leave...., and why they love their horses." May I also recommend tollini's gallery of film reviews? These are very classy films -- hardly a car-chase or FX-explosion to be had!
There are lots of scenes with little dialogue -- just great music, and interesting images. In fact, my theory is that the camera itself is the greatest FX - we can be intrigued by watching sweeping landscapes, or 'eavesdropping' on private conversations by means of it. That's what great story-telling is all about. - canuckteach (--:
I just went and seen this Movie. I loved it, it's a beautiful story. The Location and Horses are BEAUTIFUL. Alison Lohman does a wonderful job as Katy. Her emotion at one point in the movie made me cry. Her love for Flicka is known from the moment she sees her in the Mountains. The mother played by Maria Bello and is the glue that holds th family together. If there is a problem or conflict she tries to work out the problem. Ryan Kwanten plays Howard the son. He is cute. And he is the one the father wants to take over the ranch when the time comes. Katy(Lohman)and Howard(Kwanten) aren't just sister and brother but best friends. Tim McGraw does a pretty good job. The way he shows the characters love for his family is awesome. I can't wait for it to come out in the stores.
Many have raised objections at the deaths of a number of horses shot
during the filming of this wonderful epic, But this is no different
than the cows that were machine-gunned in Klimov's Soviet anti-war
feature IDI I SMOTRI, the bull beheaded in Coppola's more well-known
APOCALYPSE NOW, or the baby koala fed to the boa constrictor in
Deruelle 's CANNIBALE TERREUR, but this is a family friendly, great
American film. It shows the real American, and what the heart of
America is all about. Flicka will leave you crying tears of joy. Never
mind about the horses that died of their wounds, off screen.
Teenage Katie (Alison Lohman) grew up on her family's beautiful quarter horse ranch in Montana. She hasn't done well at boarding school and is in big trouble, especially after she brings home a wild mustang that she names "Flicka." Against her father (Tim McGraw)'s orders, she sneaks out at night and tries to tame the horse; when dad finds out, he sells the horse to a rodeo and Katie's heart is broken.
If you're a horse-crazy girl between the ages of 9 and 13, you will absolutely love this movie. Not only is the girl-horse bond strong, but so is the love between Katie and her father, mother, and brother. They are an ideal family and virtue overcomes all odds, as we know it must in a PG-rated movie. There's no offensive material; it's a simple, wholesome story, although if you're not a horse-crazy adolescent, you may find it predictable and only mildly entertaining. Alison Lohman and Tim McGraw give sensitive performances as the headstrong daughter and doting dad, but Maria Bello is too young and glamorous to be convincing as the mother/wife. It's a good film for the target audience, and just in time for little girls to start begging for a horse for Christmas
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