Horse Camp: A Love Tail

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
Horse Camp: A Love Tail Movie Poster Image
Well-meaning but uneven camp film has some positive messages
  • NR
  • 2020
  • 81 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational Value

Meant to entertain rather than educate.

Positive Messages

Female campers learn responsibility, respect, and endurance. The camp's theme for the summer is "The Kindness Quest," and campers learn that true kindness is giving without expecting anything in return. The camp aims to build "strong" and "confident" female leaders.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The new head counselor exhibits strong leadership skills despite her inexperience, while former campmates and counselors who are frustrated about being passed up for leadership jobs grudgingly accept their positions and eventually learn from those who got the jobs. Teenage cabin mates set aside their individual quests for popularity to welcome the new girl and work together to make a romantic match between two single adults. One adult female character acts like a child and lets her husband make decisions for her.

Violence & Scariness

A little girl's firefighter father was said to have died on duty. In consoling her, a policeman reveals his own father never returned from military duty. The groundskeeper admits his wife died of cancer many years ago.

Sexy Stuff

An adult man and woman flirt, hug, and share two brief kisses.

Language

"Snotty," "heck."

Consumerism

The entire film functions as a promotional video for an actual horse camp, whose website is listed in the end credits.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Teenage girls ask to buy wine at the camp store for the picnic dinner they're setting up for two adults. The counselor says they don't have or sell wine to campers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Horse Camp: A Love Tail is an innocent story that will appeal to fans, especially tweens, of horses and summer camps for girls. In fact, the movie depicts an actual horse camp for girls in Michigan, previously portrayed by the same director in 2014's Horse Camp. The film is brimming with positive messages about friendship and kindness, often returning to the concept of the "mean girl" who is spoiled, superficial, attractive, or only focused on being popular. At the end of the film, the lead counselor says the camp aims to build "strong" and "confident" female leaders, though not all of the female characters display these characteristics themselves. Three characters are revealed to have lost loved ones in the past to illness or on-the-job deaths. Teenage girls ask to buy wine at the camp store for the picnic dinner they're setting up for two adults. The counselor says they don't have or sell wine to campers. An adult man and woman flirt, hug, and share two brief kisses.

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What's the story?

Things are different at the Black River Farm & Ranch summer camp for girls this year, in the sequel HORSE CAMP: A LOVE TAIL. Jessica (Kristen Mellian) left her lead counselor position to get married, but she misses being involved and is jealous of Lisa (Rachel Sowers) filling her spot. Meanwhile, talented horseback rider Stacy (Kristen Ryda) is passed over for the lead riding instructor position for nationally renowned rider Bonnie (Teri Lee). The camp's groundskeeper, Jerry (Richard Karn), has a crush on Bonnie, but is too shy to do much about it, so a group of teenage campers take it upon themselves to make the match. All of the girls and women will learn about themselves and others, friendship, and leadership over the course of the summer camp.

Is it any good?

The likely tween audience for this movie might not notice or care that it's essentially a promotional video for an actual camp. In fact, tween girls are the targets for both this film and the camp it portrays, so they may respond well to the setting, the teenage characters, the camp spirit themes, and the hokey camp songs. Clearly the director has intended a heartfelt tribute to the camp.

But many viewers will not have the patience to sit through the narrative inconsistencies, awkward editing, amateur acting (with some exceptions), and uneven production values. The story undermines its own feminist messages with an obsession over unrealistic "mean girl" behavior and its paternalistic portrayal of Jessica's relationship with her husband. Beyond a couple of comical scenes, Horse Camp: A Love Tail is at its best when the humans disappear and the camera focuses on the camp's lovely natural surroundings and horses.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the camp experience is portrayed in Horse Camp: A Love Tail. Has anyone in your family been to camp? What was their experience?

  • How did the filmmakers capture the beauty of horses in this film, even though the story didn't revolve around horses or horseback riding?

  • Have you ever been the new kid in a situation? Did anyone make an effort to include you?

  • Sometimes the sound is too loud or too soft when characters are talking in this movie. There's also a scene where a girl is confronted about not wanting to ride horses right after another brief scene where we see her riding a horse. Did you notice such inconsistencies? How did they affect your enjoyment of this film?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love horses

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