Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story

Sweet horse movie that grade-school kids will enjoy.
  • Review Date: March 20, 2006
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2005
  • Running Time: 105 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Positive role models.

Violence & scariness

Horse falls during a race, horse runs away with girl riding (some frightening point of view shots); a jockey discusses his fall in a race, and shows his resulting scars.

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

Mild (damn and hell).

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Brief wine drinking at an adults' gathering.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie includes scenes of family tensions, involving a young girl and her parents, and her grandfather. The movie features an early, brief scene where a racehorse stumbles on the track and breaks its leg (this might be difficult for younger viewers). As the movie is set at Kentucky stables and race tracks, some characters use colorful language ("hell" and "damn") and drink at a wealthy owner's home. While the girl is riding the horse, it becomes frightened and runs away in a panic, frightening the girl, who can't stop it (the father has her jump from a galloping horse into his arms, a nearly impossible feat). A jockey shows the girl surgery scars on his shoulders and chest, the result of a riding accident, and explains that he has bad dreams. The primary villain, a white male horse owner, exhibits racism toward Mexican workers. The father and his friend talk about breeding the mare, involving a stallion and a "teaser pony" (this might provoke questions for some kids).

What's the story?

DREAMER: INSPIRED BY A TRUE STORY focuses on the loving relationship between a girl and her horse. Young Cale (Dakota Fanning) meets racehorse Sonya when she spends a work day with her father, a trainer named Ben (terrific Kurt Russell). When Sonya breaks her leg in a race, Ben refuses to have the horse put down and buys her from the money-minded owner, Mr. Palmer (David Morse). Soon, Sonya is fit enough to race. A gruff sort, Ben has trouble showing his affection for Cale, in part because he has a difficult history with his own father, retired trainer Pop (Kris Kristofferson). Cale's mother, Lil (Elisabeth Shue) tries to help Ben overcome his disconnection, encouraging him to see the bond developing between Cale and Sonya, as well as Pop's involvement in the horse's recovery. Stable hand Balon (Luis Guzmán) and jockey Manolin (Freddy Rodriguez) also help in her remarkable recovery. In competition against his brother, wealthy Prince Sadir (Oded Fehr) decides to finance Sonya's comeback.

Is it any good?


Charming, predictable, and good fun for kids, John Gatins' movie stretches credibility (with a spotty record, Sonador is invited to run in the prestigious Breeder's Cup), but it is sweet as can be, enhanced by gorgeous tracking shots over wide Kentucky expanses, and earnest father-daughter exchanges. Russell is phenomenal, utterly convincing even when saddled with clichéd dialogue that initially sets him against Cale: "She's not a pet," and "Every racehorse is for sale!".

Cale feeds Sonya popsicles, and the horse follows her around in the paddock, in adorable, swelling-strings-scored scenes that will delight young viewers. While Cale and Sonya make the movie great for kids, the evolving relationship between Cale and Ben provides some substance for parents too.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the value and difficulties of pursuing what might seem impossible dreams. They might also consider the film's portrayal of generational conflicts: how does Ben and Pop's longstanding tension affect Ben's relationship with his young daughter?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 21, 2005
DVD release date:March 21, 2006
Cast:Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson, Kurt Russell
Director:John Gatins
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Horses and farm animals
Run time:105 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:brief mild language

This review of Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bybethlthomson April 9, 2008
age 0+
this is great for kids to watch i love this movie.
Parent of a 7 year old Written byeswanson April 9, 2008
age 0+

Wow! What a heartwarming movie!

I loved this and WHOLEHEARTEDLY and without exception recommend it for kids over 8. Recommending it for ALL 5 to 7 year olds is a bit more troublesome. Many kids would be fine but the gasp-producing fall at the beginning plus family tension and mean grownups would upset my sensitive 5 yo. So think before bringing your little ones, definitely take your school agers and pre-teens, TRY to take your husband (mine balked!) and, whatever you do, don't forget the tissues!
Written byAnonymous December 8, 2012
age 7+

Good Movie for 7+ to see.

This is a good Movie so make sure you see this movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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