A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Derby Stallion is a family-friendly horse tale starring Zac Efron, pre-High School Musical. Although there's almost no bad language (one use of "ass") and very little sexy stuff (a couple of kisses and some light flirting), there is some frank talk about alcoholism, race, and class. There also are some references to death, including someone falling from a horse and the death of a main character, which may be too intense for young viewers.
What's the story?
Patrick McCardle (Zac Efron) doesn't want to follow his father's dream of being a pro baseball player but instead wants to follow his own dream to race horses in the Derby Cup. Houston Jones (Bill Cobbs), a horse trainer who struggles with alcoholism, sees promise in Patrick and offers to train him. While Patrick learns how to ride and falls in love with horses, he has to convince his mom (Tonja Walker) and dad (William R. Moses) that he's serious about racing, all while battling Randy (Michael Nardelli), the neighborhood bully and champion rider. But with Houston's wise training and the support of the pretty new girl, Jill (Crystal Hunt), Patrick can prove he has what it takes to be a Derby winner.
Is it any good?
It has a clichéd premise with some pretty stereotypical characters (the privileged rich kid who's a bully; the wise mentor who's a person of color; the wholesome, blond working-class hero). But The Derby Stallion does try to go a little deeper than your average horse tale. Houston's history, in particular, digs into some interesting themes about race relations, class, and why people use alcohol to cope. It's a somewhat shallow exploration but appropriate given that it's a family film.
Animal lovers may wish there were more scenes of actual horse riding (and that what is shown were more realistic), but they'll still probably enjoy watching Patrick learn to love horses. Parents will like the clean and positive messages.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about alcoholism. How do you think Houston's troubled past contributed to his problem with alcohol? Why do you think some people struggle with addiction and others don't?
Why do you think people like Randy bully other kids?
What's your favorite horse movie? Why is it your favorite?
For kids who love horses
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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.