Feel-good race horse dramedy will leave you cheering.
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Dream Horse is a fact-based, feel-good dramedy about a group of working-class Welsh folks, led by Jan Vokes (Toni Collette), who defy the odds to breed and raise a champion race horse. The story was previously told in the 2016 documentary Dark Horse. There's little iffy content, with the exception of a few British swear words ("bloody," "bollocks," "bastard") and quite a bit of drinking (one character in particular seems to nearly always have a pint or can of beer in his hands). There are also a few innuendos, but nothing too graphic. Families who watch the film together can talk about the importance of respecting all people, no matter their class background, job, or circumstances. The movie also promotes teamwork, integrity, perseverance, loyalty, and dedication.
Great Family Movie for families with older kids.
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What's the Story?
Based on a true story (previously chronicled in the documentary Dark Horse), DREAM HORSE chronicles how Jan Vokes (Toni Collette), a Welsh grocery clerk and bartender, convinced about 20 of her neighbors in their small village in South Wales to go in on a group purchase of a brood mare -- with the goal of raising their own race horse. Empty-nester Jan, her husband, Brian (Owen Teale), and the rest of the working-class villagers -- including Howard Davies (Damian Lewis), a tax adviser who once belonged to another syndicate -- acquire the mare, Rewbell, for just 300 pounds and keep her stabled on their community allotment. With each member contributing 10 pounds a week, the syndicate amasses enough money to pay the stud fee for a thoroughbred stallion. Rewbell gives birth to a colt, whom the group names Dream Alliance in honor of the syndicate trying to make their dream come true. Jan and Brian convince a respected trainer (Nicholas Farrell) to take on Dream Alliance, who exceeds expecations for a horse of such humble origins. But just as Dream Alliance starts winning, a race-course accident could derail everything.
Is It Any Good?
Underdog sports movies are always crowd-pleasers, and this one doesn't disappoint. Yes, Dream Horse is somewhat predictable, but so are most movies in the genre. And by confronting issues of (literal) breeding and social class, it helps ensure that audiences root for the unlikely champion. If racism is the defining plague of American history, then classism is the United Kingdom equivalent. So it's particularly notable that Jan and her syndicate are a humble lot of horse owners: villagers who work blue-collar and service industry jobs (with the exception of Howard). These aren't folks who ever imagined rubbing elbows with landed, titled gentry in owners' boxes, but that's where they find themselves, even if it's with a bag of smuggled beer cans ("Welsh champagne," someone yells). Director Euros Lyn (best known for his stellar British TV work like Doctor Who, Happy Valley, and Broadchurch) doesn't delve deeply into the syndicate members' personal lives, focusing primarily on Jan's desire to love and protect Dream Alliance after Rewbell's death.
Dream Alliance is more than a horse: He symbolizes the villagers' collective hopes and goals -- a chance for working men and women to show the posh, pedigreed world of thoroughbred horse racing that a collection of cleaners and clerks can aspire to and achieve greatness. All it takes is dedication, hard work, and the dignity to know that all people deserve respect. The racing sequences spend as much time showing the spectating syndicate as the actual horses -- reveling in the awe and excitement the group feels at seeing their "boy" pass the other, favored horses. There are no insights about the jockey, no training montage to set the tone (outside of Dream's initial visit to the famous trainer, whose other clients arrive in a helicopter and Range Rovers instead of an old van). Although audiences will be able to guess much of what happens in the story, it's heart will make viewers young and old cheer for the beautiful horse from a tiny town in Wales -- and the band of villagers who become the ultimate underdog champions.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about whether you consider Jan a role model. What's remarkable about what she and her syndicate accomplish?
How were Jan and the syndicate treated differently because they were working class? What is the movie's message about the role of class differences?
How are integrity, perseverance, and teamwork exhibited in the story? Why are those important character strengths?
Did the movie make you think about other movies about horses? What are some of your favorites?
- In theaters: May 18, 2021
- On DVD or streaming: July 20, 2021
- Cast: Toni Collette, Damian Lewis, Owen Teale
- Director: Euros Lyn
- Studio: Bleecker Street Media
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Horses and Farm Animals
- Character Strengths: Integrity, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 113 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: language and thematic elements
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Stirring, inspiring docu about unlikely champion.
Inspiring true story about an amazing woman and her horse.
An inspiring story for teens and up.
Formulaic, overly simple, too violent for tweens.
The Black Stallion
Breathtakingly beautiful, magical classic is a must-see.
For kids who love horses
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