A Horse Tale

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
A Horse Tale Movie Poster Image
Wholesome but trite "can-we-save-the-farm?" holiday romance.
  • G
  • 2015
  • 85 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Advocates a can-do spirit: "Don't try ... do!" Cautions against being an overprotective parent. Encourages being open to the goodwill of others and accepting help when you need it. Illustrates that a "family" is more than a biological unit.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Caring but overprotective single dad learns to give his daughter some independence; daughter comes to understand her dad and his concern for her. Strong, independent businesswoman acknowledges and acts upon her softer side. Working together as an extended family brings positive outcomes. The only two villains are corrupt bankers. No ethnic diversity.

Violence
Sex

One romantic kiss.

Language

"Crap," "butt."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters drink wine at a holiday party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Horse Tale includes some traditional themes: a tween girl besotted by a beautiful horse, a romance between a single dad and an independent woman, a family's economic struggles just before Christmas, and city folks learning to appreciate the beauty of a rural way of life. The movie is strong on values about families working together, mutual respect, and having faith in positive outcomes; the only villains are the usual ruthless corporate types. Events place from the dad's viewpoint, and, in this case, it means that his budding love story is at the center. This generic drama is inoffensive throughout, with some beautiful horse shots but few surprises. Best for older kids and teens.

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What's the story?

Christmas is coming to the city in A HORSE TALE. Michael Thompson (Patrick Muldoon) and his daughter Chloe (Mandalynn Carlson) haven't quite gotten their relationship back on course after the death of Chloe's mom a year earlier. Chloe is acting out in school a bit; Michael, an accountant, is overworked and stressed. A concerned colleague of Michael's has a solution: Members of her family, on a horse farm in the country, could really use the temporary services of a money manager such as Michael; and Michael and Chloe could use the change of scenery. In spite of Chloe's objections, Michael agrees, and the two set out on a holiday adventure. The Harrison horse farm is beautiful, populated by a large, extended family and lots of horses. Because it's only a matter of time before the place will be foreclosed upon and Holly, a very special horse, is to be the "first installment" payment of the loan, the Harrisons are desperate. Though Chloe's reservations evaporate when she meets Holly, and Michael does what he can with the accounting, it's not enough. It will take the entire family, led by the tough-minded oldest Harrison daughter, Samantha (Charisma Carpenter), to come up with a miracle or two (or three) to save Holly and the farm and bring Michael and his daughter closer together.

Is it any good?

Earnestness in its efforts to be uplifting holiday fare doesn't make up for the pedestrian writing, directing, and acting in this generic movie. Much of the plot is dependent upon happenstance, convenient discoveries, and cluelessness about the actual procedures in home foreclosure. The father-daughter relationship and the relationships of the large, loving Harrison family are thin and unconvincing. Still, it's harmless and contains some good -- if obvious -- messages, and horse lovers might enjoy some pretty pictures.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the popularity of horse movies, especially for tweens and teens. Do you see the connection between the beauty and spirit of horses with aspirations about your own life? What is your favorite horse movie, and why?

  • This movie, like many others, contrasts city life with life in the country. Do you see advantages in both environments? How did this movie judge the two lifestyles? Do you agree?

  • Think about why so many movies (including cartoons) directed at families have kids recovering from the loss of a parent or kids living with widowed single moms or dads. Why do filmmakers find this situation helpful for their storytelling? How does that prior death help build the emotional stakes for the characters? How does it make a grown-up romance more acceptable?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love horses

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