A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this film is generally family-friendly. There's no violence, sex, or profanity. One brief scene shows a leading character drinking a shot of whiskey when he is upset; in a follow-up scene, he throws the bottle away. The father of Moondance, the young teen protagonist, has died three years before the story takes place. Moondance visits his grave to "speak with" him, sharing her sorrows and her joys as she must have when he was alive. She also finds solace in a cherished old photograph and other mementos. Her mother takes a few tentative steps toward building a relationship with a suitor and discusses it frankly with her daughter.
What's the story?
Ninth grader Moondance Alexander (Kay Panabaker) is small for her age and relatively unsophisticated. She still misses her father, who died three years ago. The popular kids in her class make fun of her and are insensitive and cruel. Moondance feels friendless and alone until the day that she encounters a spirited pinto horse who has escaped from his stable. After returning "Checkers" to his owner (Don Johnson), and bartering to do stable work in exchange for a chance to ride him, Moondance discovers that pintos are considered "outsiders" in the horse world, just as she is an "outsider" in her school community. Moondance discovers that the pinto, despite his small size, is an astonishingly game jumper, and when she hears about an upcoming horse-jumping competition, their real work together begins.
Is it any good?
MOONDANCE ALEXANDER is a "blue sky" movie; it's a simple story, simply told, in sunlit surroundings. Watching a rosy-cheeked young teen bond with a beautiful horse and meet new challenges with ever-increasing resourcefulness and enthusiasm doesn't make for an original or inventive experience, but it's a comfortable one, and for young children it will probably be inspirational and satisfying. At the same time, the movie avoids the treacly sentimentalism that makes adults cringe. It's a good movie, if predictable, to watch together as a family.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about bullying. Moondance encounters several "mean girls" and bullies in her school. How does her reaction to them change over the course of the film? What has she learned?
Is teasing a problem in your class? Your school? How can kids deal with teasing?
Think about the music you heard in this movie. How did it help to increase your understanding and enjoyment of the story?
Describe the relationship between Moondance and her mom. How do you think that relationship made Moondance better able to deal with the kids who picked on her?
- In theaters: October 13, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: April 29, 2008
- Cast: Don Johnson, Kay Panabaker, Lori Loughlin
- Director: Michael Damian
- Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
- Genre: Family and Kids
- Topics: High School, Horses and Farm Animals, Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 94 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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