What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that despite a few corny lines, this is a wholesome family movie with heart that's guaranteed to appeal to horse-loving kids. Although Katy's rebellious nature is at the core of the story (which is based on the classic kids' novel My Friend Flicka), there are consequences to her actions, and her family comes together at the end and learns to communicate in a respectful way. There are refreshingly few references to sex (it is an animal movie, after all), and few instances of crude or cringe-worthy behavior.
What's the story?
Alison Lohman stars as Katy McLaughlin, a headstrong 16-year-old who lives with her family on a modern, working ranch. She's the only daughter in a long line of ranchers, and she'd prefer to be on the ranch instead of away at boarding school most of the year. Her dad, Rob (Tim McGraw), is grooming her brother, Howard (Ryan Kwanten), to take over the ranch, but he'd rather go to college. Rob wants Katy to go to college, while her mom (Maria Bello) sees Katy's independent spirit for what it is. Home from school, Katy catches a wild mustang and names it Flicka, decides the filly is her chance to prove that she's responsible, and begs her dad to let her tame it. But he sees nothing but trouble from the untamed animal, and is busy trying to save the ranch. He doesn't see that Katy and Flicka (and he himself!) are very much alike, shunning authority and not about to give up their freedom without a fight. Going against her father's wishes, Katy sets out to break through to Flicka and transform her into a riding horse. In the process, the horse manages to bring the family back together.
Is it any good?
Sweeping landscapes, save-the-farm storyline, beautiful horses, rebellious girl -- it's been done before, but it's an appealing story that never goes out of style, especially for younger viewers. And even though the original novel is half a century old, its story of a hard-working family eking out a living on the farm and trying to protect their heritage has never been more relevant. Watching this movie will bring kids back to nature (and away from their video games) and help teach them that wide-open spaces need to be preserved and honored, not covered with malls and condos.
Also, the characters in this movie aren't one-dimensional. Katy is headstrong and opinionated -- she knows what she wants and goes after it -- but she's also girly, showing that it's OK to be both. Likewise, Rob isn't a bad guy. He just has big dreams for his daughter, which is why he wants her to go to college, instead of being saddled with a ranch that may or may not be around for much longer.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the best way to communicate. Is it better to get things out in the open instead of letting them fester? Why?
Why is it important to see other people for who they truly are, rather than what you want them to be. Also, should Katy have adopted the wild horse against her father's wishes?
How could she have handled her rebellious nature in a more respectful manner?
Why was it so important for her father to try to save the ranch?