A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie's intention is to entertain rather than educate.
Themes of friendship, perseverance, and teamwork are prominent throughout, although they feel cliched. Kindness to animals. Characters -- and animals -- face their fears. A character learns to not be so hard on themselves. More important things than winning.
Positive Role Models
Audry is hardworking and has a great love for animals. She is thoughtful and puts the welfare of Beauty above everything. She is adamant that anything a boy can do, she can do too. Some characters are stereotypes such as Audry's father, James, who is overprotective and is continually referred to as the one who brings money into the family and the one who sets the rules. Audry's family are religious -- saying grace before meal times and attending the church BBQ.
Violence & Scariness
References to a horse being physically abused. Some scenes in which the horse becomes distressed including one where it kicks a character who is left with a bruise on their leg. A character is bumped into on purpose causing them to fall to the floor. Some arguing among family members. A character playfully punches another. The death of a grandparent is mentioned several times as is a character breaking their leg after falling from a horse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Mild flirting. Character discusses their romantic feelings.
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"Crap" and "God" are used as exclamations. Character calls another a "clumsy cow" and "loser."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this 2015 TV movie version of Black Beauty shares little with Anna Sewell's 1877 children's classic, other than its name. There are a number of positive messages such as friendship, perseverance, and teamwork, as well as the need to show kindness to animals. However, these messages feel signposted. There is also some stereotyping, most notably James (Luke Perry), the overprotective father who makes reference to himself as the one who brings money into the home and as such his daughter, Audry (Jennifer Mckenzie) must live by "his rules." Though viewers don't see it, the physical abuse of a horse is discussed in some detail. Subsequently the horse is quick to distress and in one scene kicks out causing a bruise on a character's leg. Two teens flirt with one another although it's all fairly innocent. "Crap" and "God" are used occasionally as exclamations and one obnoxious character calls someone a "clumsy cow" and "loser." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Though the movie's heart is in the right place, wooden acting, poor editing, and a weak script, make this 2015 TV movie a poor addition to the Black Beauty series. Characters are cliched -- from Luke Perry's overprotective father to the spoiled rich Blythe -- and relationships feel fake and unnatural. Audry's intermittent voiceover is unnecessary and subsequently annoying, spelling out the narrative that's playing out before our eyes. The same can be said for some of the dialogue with lines such as "It's not about the winning" and "I can do anything a boy can do" hammering home messages that have already been made clear.
Underneath these shortcomings lie a number of positive messages; friendship, teamwork, and determination. It's just a shame they are so overstated. Viewers who tune in to see galloping horses will also be disappointed, with Beauty being limited to close-ups with none of the birds-eye sweeping shots that have become accustomed with other Black Beauty movies. A disappointing addition to the series.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.