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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Apple of My Eye is the tale of a 15-year-old girl who loses her sight in a riding accident, her recuperation, and the adjustments she must make. The film is appropriate for mature older kids as the story unfolds softly, with no wrenching emotional outbursts or excessive sadness. The filmmakers have opted for the simplicity of portraying a teen and her parents dealing with unexpected heartbreak and challenges by taking positive action from the outset. There are sad moments, but those are always offset by life-affirming acts and a compassionate community. And, for animal lovers, a miniature horse and some beautiful dogs are center stage. An early scene shows the girl falling from the horse. (Spoiler Alert): A later scene finds a beloved animal in distress, but that is resolved happily within minutes. The film identifies a number of Southeastern U.S. social service, animal, and medical facilities.
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What's the story?
The opening moments of APPLE OF MY EYE find Bailey Andrews (Avery Arendes) prepping for the Nationals, a prestigious horse-riding competition. At 15, Bailey is an accomplished rider who loves every moment of time spent with the animals she treasures. But Bailey falls. And while it seems for a moment that she's okay, it's only a few hours until her vision is affected. Her worried parents (Amy Smart and Liam McIntyre) are quick to respond. Sadly, what seemed like just a "little" fall has resulted in a major injury. Her condition is serious and most likely will lead to permanent blindness. Bailey's struggles with the reality of the situation, and the changes she must make are serious, but, following her parents' positive lead, she encounters the special world of guide dogs, Braille, other sightless teens, and the possibility of a full life. It doesn't hurt that Charlie (Burt Reynolds), the head trainer for Southeastern Guide Dogs, "Apple" (a very special miniature horse), and Sebastian (Jack Griffo), a young man with his own challenges, will significantly impact her course.
Is it any good?
Writer-director Castille Landon chose restraint and gentleness in this story about a teen's coping with blindness, making it a good bet for kids who appreciate poignancy without the heavy drama. Performances are solid; especially noteworthy are Amy Smart, as the heroine's mom, and Jack Griffo, as a special new friend. In keeping the tone positive and light, Landon sacrifices emotional depth, but it works for the intended audience. Unfortunately, she stumbles a bit by introducing other story elements that are never explored or resolved (i.e., tension between parents over their differing roles as financial partners and a very late appearance by Bailey's friend). Apple of My Eye is a gentle film for family sharing. Who can resist a tiny horse who sleeps tucked up close to her downhearted but very loving BFF?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the significance of Bailey's parents during her rehabilitation in Apple of My Eye. What important traits did Caroline and Jason exhibit to help their daughter through the difficult times? What were Caroline's specific contributions? Jason's?
The "Five Stages of Grief" are concepts about grief, constructed by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, an American psychiatrist, circa 1960s. Look up Kubler-Ross, the five stages, and the far-reaching influence of her insights. Which "stages" did Bailey go through in this film?
What is the meaning of the expression "apple of my eye"? How is this story and this title a play on words?
- On DVD or streaming: January 10, 2017
- Cast: Avery Arendes, Amy Smart, Burt Reynolds
- Director: Castille Landon
- Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Horses and Farm Animals, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Empathy, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 84 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: mild thematic elements
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