A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Amazing Racer is a 2009 movie about a teen girl who is distraught over the death of her father and the recent discovery that her mother is actually alive. She begins to pick up the pieces of her life as she develops a deep emotional bond while training a temperamental horse named Rainbow. The emotional intensity in some of the scenes makes the film best for older tweens. Also, some of the scenes in which Rainbow is shown injured or being overworked by unscrupulous stablemen will be difficult for younger viewers and horse lovers of all ages. There is occasional mild profanity ("hell," "sucks," "damn"), and it's strongly implied that a once-great horse trainer has become an alcoholic (there are scenes in which he sits alone in his living room drinking whiskey and talking to himself).
What's the story?
While trying to cope with the recent death of her father, Shannon (Julianne Michelle) learns from her Uncle Dave (Michael Madsen) that her mother (Claire Forlani), contrary to what she had been told by her father, is actually alive and well and living in rural Pennsylvania. Shannon leaves her South Florida home to live with her mother, at least through the summer. Her mother takes Shannon to a nearby stable, where Shannon's dark mood melts in the presence of a temperamental horse who instantly bonds with Shannon. Shannon names the horse Rainbow, and the work involved in training and caring for Rainbow helps Shannon take her mind off of her grief. But when an unscrupulous owner (Eric Roberts) of a rival stable buys Rainbow in a claims race, Shannon is devastated, once again. But her mother and her new friends at the stable work to figure out a way to rescue Rainbow and train the horse to compete and win in the Pennsylvania Cup horse race.
Is it any good?
For horse lovers, AMAZING RACER is an enjoyable -- if emotionally intense -- movie that goes far in showing the deep bonds that develop between horse and person. Through the skill of the actors, the emotionally intense scenes aren't as mawkish and overblown as they could have been, and while the story is generally formulaic and predictable, the evocations of stable life and the amount of work and love it takes to train a horse go far in moving past the stock characters and expected story turns.
It's not the best horse movie out there, but it's certainly not the worst. However, parents looking for more of a light-hearted movie about horses should look elsewhere since this one deals honestly with a teen girl coming to grips with the death of her father, as well as the recent discovery that her father had lied about her mother's whereabouts. This, coupled with scenes of the horse Rainbow being run and whipped to near exhaustion by an unscrupulous stable, makes the movie difficult for younger and more sensitive viewers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Rainbow helped Shannon heal. Why do you think caring for a pet or animal is so therapeutic?
What similarities and differences do you see between this movie and other horse-themed movies?
How is the culture of stable life conveyed in the movie? Did this seem realistic to you? Why or why not?
- On DVD or streaming: March 12, 2013
- Cast: Claire Forlani, Julianne Michelle, Michael Madsen
- Director: Frank Johnson
- Studio: ARC Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: Horses and Farm Animals
- Run time: 92 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: Thematic elements and some mild language.
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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