Fresh Horses (1988) Poster

(1988)

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McCarthy and Ringwald: an attempt at a serious story.
celluloidcity27 January 2004
After watching this film I had some questions. What does the title refer to? There are horses in this film but are they fresh? Does it refer to the couple at all? And what does that have to do with the love story? Who comes up with these movie titles? And why?

Silly questions aside, Fresh Horses is a film with an adult story aimed at using the onscreen chemistry of Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald, (who were first paired as everyone knows in the excellent Pretty In Pink) in a serious love story. Ringwald is Jewel, a mysterious country girl, all pink lips and tousled curly hair. She meets Matt (McCarthy) a college upper middle class guy with a pretty stable and boring life. He's engaged to the perfect women, and has your typical annoying university friends. She has a past and a reputation, but he becomes smitten with her and attempts to change his life so they can be together.

As my Video and Movie Guide said, this film is just an adult version of Pretty In Pink. He's more classy than her, she knows who she is and he has to learn to be worthy of her, not the other way around. I don't know about that judgement. Yes, it is the same couple. Yes, the story is similiar, but with sexual themes. But the more I think about the ending, the scenery and the sets of this film the more its intelligence shines through. The film is about pushing you to change, propelling someone to see their life through other's eyes and making you believe in yourself.

As someone said in the messageboards, the settings are eerie, and the characterisations are spooky. Viggo Mortensen is great as Green. Ben Stiller, as Matt's friend is weirdly creepy. We never quite know what people's motvations are, and although the dialogue is terribly clunky in moments between the two leads, this is a film that knows it is not formulaic. For the plastic period the 80's, Fresh Horses sits nicely jagged in its themes and story. They should not be all be standard and set.
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8/10
Vastly Underrated and Under-Mentioned Flick
randal_helm13 February 2005
I saw this movie in the theater when it first came out. I was in love with Ringwald at the time as she was(and is still if the laws of physics still apply) about 5 years older than me. I really liked it then, and have been trying to get this on DVD for years.

I was afraid that the film wouldn't be as good as I remembered, and it wasn't in the WAY that I remembered, but it was BETTER in ways that I didn't have the experience or maturity to appreciate at the time.

While aspects of the film are dated, namely the syrupy, St. Elmo's Fire-ish theme song in the opening/closing credits, it held up surprisingly well. The only thing that keeps me from giving this higher marks is the unfortunate 80's gloss that works so well for the John Hughes films, but keeps this one from transcending the rat-pack genre.

If this film were made today, it would never be filmed or sold as a "box-office" film, but would rather go through Sundance, IFC, etc., and the style would be more raw, more gritty. By and large though, that just didn't happen with "Teen Stars" in the 80's, and I'm amazed they got this film made at all! Also, for the people who don't seem to get the "Fresh Horses" reference, my take on it is not definitive, but there is a line where Ben Stiller is talking to Matt (McCarthy) and says something to the effect of letting a tired horse go, and getting a "fresh horse" in reference to dropping Jewel.

It seemed to me that the metaphor was that while the characters all cared about each other, each relationship("horse") had more selfish/cynical motivations behind them. In effect, the relationships were being used to move themselves from one-point to another towards their goals/desires, whether or not they themselves understood or acknowledged them.

Ringwald uses McCarthy to get out of her marriage, McCarthy uses Ringwald to get out of his engagement, Stiller seems to use his friendship with McCarthy to avoid growing up and getting serious, McCarthy seems to be trying to fulfill an image of himself as a white-knight, though he finds that he doesn't have the character, he also seems to need the superiority he feels over Jewel due to her lack of education and so on....

Unfortunately for most(it seems!), the movie required you to do a little thinking, and probably drew the wrong crowd due to its co-stars, who were maybe expecting Pretty in Pink II, or Pretty In Pink "for adults", but I do not agree with that view of the movie.

If you haven't seen it, give it a shot. Just go in with a blank slate and take it as it comes....
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4/10
Molly Ringwald: camp Lolita or serious thespian?
moonspinner5514 March 2007
Molly Ringwald, softer and more contemplative than in her John Hughes/high school comedies, plays a shady girl from the wrong side of the tracks who meets and has an affair with preppy Cincinnati college kid Andrew McCarthy; the fact his rich friends disapprove and she has such a questionable background may prevent things from going further. Not a terrible movie, but filled with self-defeating clichés and occasionally overwrought dialogue. Ringwald struggles a bit with her redneck accent, and McCarthy does nothing to elevate his pinched, emotionally-parched persona, but the look of the film is quite vivid and the atmosphere is well-captured. Perhaps it was a good idea to re-team the teen lovers from "Pretty in Pink" in a more grown-up setting, but the filmmakers didn't go far enough with the idea, and the coy finale seems a little undernourished. ** from ****
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7/10
Too easy to just stereotype...McCarthy and Ringwald
MarieGabrielle23 May 2006
do rather well with the subject matter- albeit limited, and as a previous review mentioned, ("Pretty In Pink, Redux")...sometimes there is fault with pop culture trying to seem clever; just ask Stephen King.

Ringwald is a decent actor, and was unfortunately pegged into these type roles for awhile- I will have to watch her later films to compare, as it seem she has not been given enough range. Since this film was made in the late 80's; there needs to be a twist; Andrew McCarthy provides a sympathetic character-trying to do the right thing. (Was there a "right thing" in 1988?). I seem to remember films like "American Psycho" reflecting , more accurately, the political and social climate of the times.

What the audience does see, is interesting and expository. For example; why do the Ben Stiller and McCarthy character have to visit their college girlfriends at their indoor/outdoor swimming pool?; this is a gross exaggeration. Unless their parents owned a software company; being well-to-do does not necessitate an Olympic sized/Mariott Hotel swimming pool.(Wow-the parents went to St. Martin-not exactly a world cruise). But, yes, this is the 80's. So we will excuse that. I can remember films like "Soul Man" (1989) and "Who's That Girl" (Madonna- throw-away trash film) The Ringwald character could have been better developed, she is a townie; married too young; the speech when she explains her childhood could have been more nuanced, more true to life. Ben Stiller is realistic, except when he delivers the title phrase to McCarthy- ..."drop the old nag and get a new one"... when referring to Jewel(Ringwald). Also the final deus ex machina- where Ringwald is assaulted, yet stays with Green (Viggo Mortenson) is contrived and convenient. Andrew McCarthy is a good actor, without the luxury of a story-line.

In the late 80's, there were some films with social merit. This was one of them, but you may have to block out some of the more ridiculous polarizations. The fact is that there will always be college, college preppies, and townies, who drive 1979 Camaros. The writer must show the audience why we should care, and learn about the many conflicts and psychological issues.
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A follow up to my comment below
mistermycroft24 February 2004
I just wanted to add a few more thoughts to the comment that I left last year, which a few people have cited to. Again, I will say that this is by no means a great film. Much of what happens is, at least to me, unrealistic and unconvincing. Molly's speech in the cabin to McCarthy and his friends, about her childhood, is also somewhat laughable. But the movie has quite a few elements which make it worth watching. Many scenes are memorable. Ones that stick out in my mind are the pool party and the conversation afterwards, the scene where Ben Stiller talks to McCarthy about how difficult it is to make friends at their age, and the strange scenes where McCarthy goes to the house in the woods and meets Jewel and her female friend. I am still uncertain as to what exactly was going on out there, as to why these kids were hanging out at such a remote location. The film looks visually stunning and makes you want to visit these places. As for the title, I believe that at one point Stiller compares Molly to a worn out nag and says that McCarthy needs a "fresh horse" to ride, or something like that. I agree, the title makes little sense. But I recommend the movie.
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6/10
Unexceptional
ProofUndeniable24 July 2003
This movie is really only for those who were/are serious fans of either Molly Ringwald or Andrew McCarthy. The storyline is implausible and the characters are woefully underdeveloped. McCarthy stars as a young man named Matt who is engaged to marry his socialite girlfriend, but scraps those plans when he meets Jewel(Ringwald). The film follows Matt as he tries to figure out who exactly Jewel is and what secrets she might be hiding. For her part, Ringwald does a decent job. Her southern accent isn't overdone or ridiculous, though it is a bit odd. To her credit, she believably portrays a character that is totally unlike any of those in her previous movies. McCarthy, on the other hand, seems like a reincarnation of every part I've ever had the displeasure of seeing him in. He wanders through the film aimlessly and seems totally disinterested the whole way through. Overall, not a bad effort on Ringwald's part, but I would only recommend watching this movie if you happen to catch it on cable.
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6/10
A touching and somber look at romance.
Michael O'Keefe13 November 2000
Andrew McCarthy plays a college student that falls in love with a less educated and less cultured young girl(Molly Ringwald). Two immediate problems are: McCarthy needs to break off an engagement to his well to do girlfriend; only to find out that Ringwald is younger than he thinks and needs an annulment from an abusive husband.

Dark, moody and almost full blown depressing. If you liked PRETTY IN PINK, this is the more grown up version. I always seem to find McCarthy a sympathetic character, but I really like his cool attitude he brings to the part. Miss Ringwald is simply great in this role.

Rounding out the cast are: Ben Stiller, Patti D'Arbanville, Viggo Mortensen and Molly Hagan. Stay with this one, don't jump off in midstream. This is very under rated and deserves your attention.
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9/10
Right and wrong, lies and truth, and love.
dxndmom-15 December 2006
I have seen the words "ethereal" and "haunting" used in descriptions of this movie.....and I think they are dead on! I remember renting this movie just after it came out on VHS, and I totally fell in love with it, here it is, almost 19 years later and I STILL love it!

Andrew McCarthy's character is so real, you see men like him every day all across America, ready to get married for all the wrong reasons, or ones that seemed right to start with, then they wake up and see there's something more to their life around them. He's also the boy you always wanted to meet or date in high school or college. Molly Ringwald's character is.....just too painfully real. You hurt for her, with her, then you're angry at her and you want to know the truth, and you feel the love.

So many people hack this movie to death saying it's horrible.....but I don't think they've ever been in love so they wouldn't understand. OK yes, it's a bit hokey in spots, and somewhat hard to believe, but it WAS 1988 when it was made, the decade when "Greed is good", so you have to look at it from that perspective.

PLEASE, PLEASE watch it! Watch it with an open mind and an open heart, you won't be disappointed!
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9/10
Imagery of Ringwald's best film draw's you in.
triple816 August 2003
I think of all Molly's movies, "Fresh Horses" has to be the best. I never forgot this movie or Ringwald's "Jewel", not only does she look absolutely stunning in this, but her acting is perfection.

This movie is extremely underrated. One reviewer stated this movie is haunting. It is. There is no good reason WHY it is but hundreds of movies with this type of plot have been made and this one really stands out, it has a dreamlike feel to it. The characters simply jump out at you, the movie gets 10 of 10 for scenery and atmosphere, there's a compelling ethereal quality about this movie and Ringwald's Jewel and even though this was not her most popular movie it was her best hands down.
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2/10
Shoot the Horse, It's Lame, Lame, Lame
jimmylee-12 July 2006
"When you become our age, it's harder and harder to make friends" says Tipton as he loyally stands by Matt. Jeez, with friends like that, it's no wonder this lame movie got made - no one was brave enough to tell any of the cast how bad it was. Didn't any of them watch the dailies?

So, maybe at some point in his career Andrew managed to rustle up major chemistry, but in this movie, he manages to deliver the eternal best friend chemistry instead of the lost in lust type. He's very likable, but I don't think that's what we were going for, and he is just miscast. And Molly delivered some of her lines like she was reading them for the first time from the teleprompter ("I'm used" she says in the same tone she would use to announce "pink is my color") instead of part innocent/part femme fatale. I don't think either of them was getting the coaching they needed.

The tension between the college and the surroundings was interesting for a while, but difficult to fathom. There aren't many universities that I can think of (maybe it's a Midwest thing?) that are so close to the swamps of Deliverance.

When this movie came out, I really wanted to see it, because I loved St. Elmo's Fire. I wasn't able to because of school and work. I'm glad I missed it and saw it on cable, although I wasted quite some time waiting for the good part...waiting, waiting, waiting. Maybe there was a good story there at some point, but it didn't show up on the screen.
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I liked the scenery...
swedensm19 June 2004
This movie was filmed in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky, where I was living at the time. I hung around some of the days of shooting, as the house where Molly Ringwald "lives" stands right outside my town.

Andrew McCarthy was a darling who signed autographs, talked to whomever was around as if they were lifelong friends and even joined us for lunch. He won some lifelong fans during those days. However, Molly Ringwald was too grand for the likes of us

Kentuckians; she snubbed everyone and hid in her trailer. She kept stopping production during the cold weather because she was absolutely adamant about not being filmed with a red nose.

I have to admit, when the film was shown, we laughed until we cried when we noticed that her nose was Rudolph red -- a lot.

That is my fondest memory of this waste of good talent (McCarthy's). They should have saved the money and spent it on nose makeup for Ms. Ringwald. Or maybe charm

school.
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4/10
"I believed in you, Jewel."
ginny209-16 October 2006
Near the end of the movie, I was expecting (whether I knew it or not), that Andrew McCarthy would say: "I believed in you, Jewel." And it'd end happily, in a parking lot, with some rain and bad music.

But, as it was, it basically ended how any cheap movie ends, with some bad music, and the guy not getting the girl.

I didn't find the performances from McCarthy and Ringwald to be particularly wonderful, or compelling.

It was predictable. And slightly cheesy.

It was shot wonderfully, though. I thought the landscaping, and the way Ringwald and McCarthy looked against it, was gorgeous. I also enjoyed Viggo Mortensen's performance, short as it was. And I got a laugh out of the young Ben Stiller.

It wasn't awful, but, it wasn't great, either. Worth watching a least once, when you have nothing better to do.
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2/10
Lost in Translation? (spoilers)
Pepper Anne31 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Screenwriter Larry Kreton adapts Fresh Horses, originally a play, for the big screen. Perhaps it was the desire to recreate something via casting decisions with the Pretty in Pink duo, McCarthy and Ringwald re-teaming for similar roles, or just in the failure of this particular play to translate so neatly to film, but something was missing that makes Fresh Horses instantly forgettable.

McCarthy never seems to offer much emotion, even in the roles intended to be more romantic. He's just the inert character with some pre-determined purpose that has to be filled for two hours or so. Here, he plays Matt Larkin, the college preppy who breaks off his engagement when he falls for the mostly unsympathetic Jewel (Ringwald, written to be an almost complete dimwit), a girl who is essentially his opposite and fits the "broken home" stereotype that he feels obliged to rescue. Of course, despite urgings from his best friend Tipton (Ben Stiller in a role probably better suited for Paul Rieser) to quit playing it safe all the time and live a little, his friends are suspicious of Matt's new love interest.

The movie might disappoint those looking for something similar to McCarthy and Ringwald's previous romantic pairing in Pretty in Pink, since there is so little sincerity and direction. And, neither of the leads are particularly likable - from beginning to end, Matt can't seem to decide for himself what he wants or has the guts to act on it; and Ringwald's character, too, is at times so ignorant and so shady. It doesn't exactly make for a particularly interesting love story.
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6/10
Snapshot of UC campus, acting careers on the rise and others showing their limitations
seanlahman26 July 2006
A lot of the scenes were filmed at the University of Cincinnati. As a student there in the late 1980s, I enjoyed watching the movie for a nostalgic look at the campus. It's completely different today.

The movie itself isn't awful. It contains some interesting early performances by Viggio Mortenson and Ben Stiller. But the film shows the limitations of stars Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald, and stands as evidence why the young stars were never able to find great success playing adult roles. McCarthy lacks the emotional range to give this role the complexity it requires. Ringwald also has a difficult time making the transition from sweet roles in films like Pretty in Pink and Sixteen Candles to the sexy temptress in Fresh Horses.
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who hasn't been there?
caljac5113 October 2003
a particularly haunting movie, especially for most of us who remember what it was like to be young, naive, and in a relationship that we wanted to work, but somehow intuitively knew wouldn't/couldn't, a relationship we knew had too little common ground. The looks that pass between the lead characters when he corrects her grammar are revelatory.
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Strangely Compelling...
mistermycroft19 August 2002
I'm not sure why I've watched this movie 4 or 5 times. The plot isn't particularly believable or intriguing. What has always hooked me is the eerie winter landscape seen throughout, the barren woods of Ohio and Kentucky. It's definitely atmospheric, and at times even haunting. The final scene at the ice skating rink is kind of sad, too.
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watchable
dailyshampoo4820 January 2016
this is one of those movies which doesn't quite come together as it ought, but has some decent and compelling moments which render it finally watchable. to be brutally honest, i'm not particularly enthralled with any of the work ringwald has done, even her famous collaborations with john hughes; but i think they last because they're convincing, character-driven stories. this is another one of them.

i liked the on location shots of a place that was neither new york or SoCal. they made an nice effort to root the story in reality. people live in real houses and drive old cars.

i'm really digging these 80s films, they have like dialogue and cinematography and stuff. it's also not some effing remake.
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Not so fresh feeling
The_Film_Cricket20 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
'Fresh Horses' takes an ancient story, runs it through the ringer and presents it in a washed out production with attractive actors playing dress up and moving like cattle through the strains of a predictable story. Do I sound too negative? When I see the same movie retreading the same ground that so many have gone over in mostly unsuccessful movies, you bet.

Andrew McCarthy Plays Matt, a rich kid who is about to marry a crushing bore for no other reason than to make some money for the family. While settling into this idea he meets Jewel (Molly Ringwald), a poor-white-trash country girl with a modest southern twang and enough domestic problems to land her on a week's worth of guest shots on Jerry Springer.

In the right roles, I like Molly Ringwald but here she plays a country gal so wounded that I didn't want her to get married as much I wanted to see her get some therapy. McCarthy, who has a kind face and never seems to rush any performance runs the gamut of expressions from A to B, but that's not his fault, the movie doesn't give him much to work with. I liked both of them in 'Pretty in Pink' because the screenplay gave three dimensional characters and a story that was worth their time (and ours). Here they are placed in front of the camera, look at each other with smoldering eyes and don't give us the slightest notion of why they are attracted to one another. Even the photography looks tired. It looks washed out and some darker shot scenes are too light. Even Ringwald's red puffy lips look pale.

Will Michael give up his shot at marrying the bore and lose his money, his friends and their respect. Or will he stay with Jewel and enjoy the splendor happiness and love? This story was old when Edith Warton told it in 'The Age of Innocence'.
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Pretty In Pink Redux
Jubal2824 December 2005
More or less.

I first saw this movie while attending Cincinnati Law. I was a defense attorney in the UC Student Court, defending a student on a parking ticket appeal, and by coincidence I watched this movie the night before the trial . . . and Andrew McCarthy parked in the exact spot where my client had gotten the ticket.

Anyway, the movie is OK if you want a somewhat depressing John Hughes film. Fall in Ohio gets bitter quickly, and I can't help but think it affected the tone of the film. It's nice to see many of the familiar sights of Cincinnati and UC, but other than that, it's mostly forgettable even if you don't get the feeling you've already seen it before.
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9/10
Probably the best Molly Ringwald movie ever
wahoos5021 January 2001
One of the most bittersweet movie endings of all time. Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy have since both slid off the front pages but both give great performances in this movie. A powerful, powerful movie about young people that have to make big decisions.
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8/10
the agonies of growing up and thinking you're in love
jukebox-26 May 2000
This is an excellent film. The acting is wonderful by all the principals and the story is very believable.

This would be a good film for a high school discussion group as it contains many themes: marrying too young, mixing of social classes, infatuation instead of love, etc.

If you like either Andrew McCarthy or Molly Ringwald then see this film as they shine.

8/10
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9/10
a wonderful thought provoking movie
kluismans11 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
reading the reviews of this movie is odd, the movie divides opinion so completely, with either very high marks or low one. maybe this is because the two leads are cast almost against type, or rather as parodies of their type in other brat pack movies.Yes they are troubled, as in their brat pack roles, but here neither is presented entirely sympathetically and their troubles are not successfully resolved.

the film is an unnerving take on the familiar themes of 'pretty in pink' etc. but where as those movies establish a feel good atmosphere, this one establishes a downbeat and well rather miserable one. I am not selling the movie am I? but actually i love it, even the rain and the industrial landscapes. It seems to me that the movie focuses upon a short time in two young peoples lives and that moment is significant to each for different reasons. to me that final scene when they meet each other and have both moved on describes perfectly that sense of lost possibilities that cant be defined because they haven't happened but are felt. Essentially, mccarthy and ringwald throughout the movie have every reason not to be together, they differ in every respect, and eventually these reasons do separate them, but this sensation of what if? ie what if they had stayed together and learned to be what the other wants, that sensation remains hovering over the movies conclusion. I think the movie perfectly describes the conflict between will and desire, and leaves the characters, well at least mccarthy, unsatisfied at the end - knowing that he has failed in some way. In this respects it is an unusual movie and one that is well worth watching.
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A must see for any fan of the BRAT PACK
nix-1927 August 1999
This is a romantic film, which anyone who liked Pretty in Pink should like. If not, at least you can make fun of their hair. Molly Ringwald's accent in the film is laughable but in general the film is not a comedy. It is a sad look at the fragile reality of love.
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7/10
PWT girl traps middle class boy
dstern114 February 2005
I saw this film when it was in the theatres many years ago and have not seen it since.

I remember Molly Ringwald showing decent dramatic range as a very unsympathetic white trash girl. She lies to Andrew McCarthy and snares him in romance. Ben Stiller tries to warn McCarthy against Ringwald by pointing out that he needs a "fresh horse" not the true garbage of Ringwald.

I remember liking the film and thinking that Molly Ringwald does an excellent job of playing such an undesirable person. It could be that my own prejudices have colored my memory of this film as well as the years causing my memory to fade. I acknowledge that others have a different take on the film.
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10/10
The Name had nothing to do with the movie!
The_Loonatic10 September 2003
When i saw this film,i thought that it was boring and a waste of time to see.It's just one of the most dumbest love storys EVER.The only thing i liked about the Movie was the actor Doug Hutchison who plays Sproles. I think the name of the movie has NOTHING to do with the story!
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