A Champion Heart

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
A Champion Heart Movie Poster Image
Girl and horse heal each other in faith-based tale.
  • G
  • 2018
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Sometimes a dose of fear is useful. Let your faith be stronger than your fear. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mandy is a nice girl going through a difficult transition after death of her mother and move to strange new place. When she gets into an accident driving a new friend's off-road vehicle and causes property damage, she's apologetic but afraid to tell her dad. A woman says she was mad at God but then remembered God has a plan.

Violence & Scariness

Mean girls taunt a new girl at school. Mandy tries to force her horse to jump too high too soon, resulting in the horse's leg injury. A woman remembers her 8-year-old daughter, who died of leukemia. A girl's mother died recently. A boy performs community service to make up for breaking some windows.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Poop jokes.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Champion Heart (also known as A Horse from Heaven) is a familiar, faith-based story featuring a troubled teenage girl and a troubled horse as they work to heal each other. High school mean girls and bullying behavior are on full display. A woman remembers her 8-year-old, who died of leukemia, and a teenager mourns the recent loss of her mother. A character forces her horse to jump too high too soon, resulting in the horse's leg injury. When a character gets into an accident driving a new friend's off-road vehicle and causes property damage, she's apologetic but afraid to tell her dad. There are some horse poop jokes.

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What's the story?

In A CHAMPION HEART, Mandy (Mandy Grace) and her dad, Jack (David de Vos, also the director), have moved to a California trailer park. Jack is starting a new job. Mandy's mom died a year before. Both are sad and struggling through a tough time. Mandy is a good kid but crashes a friend's off-road vehicle, causing some property damage at a local horse rescue farm. The owner, Diane (Donna Rusch), who speaks of her faith in Jesus, offers Mandy a job to repay the damage. Mandy is reluctant but agrees when she learns that Bradley (YouTuber Devan Key), the cutest boy at her new school, works there too. Horse poop jokes and hard work jokes emerge quickly as Mandy learns how to care for horses, and more importantly, how to care for something other than herself. She relates to a troubled horse she names Tux. The animal had been abandoned by a rich and spoiled schoolmate and resident mean girl, Zoey (Isabella Mancuso), who torments and mocks Mandy mercilessly. Mandy and Tux bring each other out of their shells as Mandy learns to ride, jump, and let go of her fears.

Is it any good?

This pleasantly watchable film isn't much more than a rehash of a tired old recipe. See also: Rodeo & Juliet, Healed by Grace, Christmas Ranch, Rodeo Girl, The Horse Whisperer. In this case, take one self-absorbed teen girl, mix with equal amounts hard work and cute guy, and play for 90 minutes. The flavorless, simplistic, but inoffensive fare that results won't bother anyone, but it won't inspire anyone either. Director and co-writer David de Vos plays the dad of Mandy, and Mandy is played by his real-life daughter, Amanda de Vos, credited as Mandy Grace here. A Champion Heart relies on stock characters and a paint-by-numbers script with acting to match. Devan Key as Bradley is the exception: He has a spark that a better script might have developed.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how two of the most challenging events in life are the loss of a loved one and moving to a new place. How do you think moving and changing schools would make life more difficult for someone like Mandy?

  • Zoey is spoiled and mean to people. Do you think the movie paints a one-sided picture of her? Do you think the way she's portrayed makes her seem like a real person or like a cartoon villain?

  • Do you think A Champion Heart  tries to preach Christianity? What are some ways that goal improves or detracts from the story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horses

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