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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The strongest message is to follow your dreams and your heart, even if others think it's not right for you. There's also a strong emphasis on friendship and supporting your friends no matter what.
Positive Role Models
Although Houston is shown to be an alcoholic, he's a positive role model when he owns up to his problem and quits drinking. Patrick also is a good role model when he continues to stand up for Houston against the local bullies and when he goes after his dreams.
Violence & Scariness
The death of a character's loved one from falling from her horse is detailed in a flashback. The actual accident isn't shown, though you do see her body afterward. A main character dies, though it's also not shown in a violent or graphic way. A town bully threatens to beat up Patrick and acts aggressively toward him and other characters.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Patrick's parents are shown kissing and being affectionate, and there's one pretty deep kiss between Jill and Patrick.
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One character refers to another as a "horse's ass."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Houston is referred to by the other characters as an alcoholic, and he's shown drinking out of a flask. But he does own up to his problem and quits drinking. Alcohol isn't glamorized at all, and drinking is frowned upon by the rest of the characters, especially Patrick's parents, who have concerns about Patrick spending time with an adult who drinks heavily.
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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. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.