The Greening of Whitney Brown Movie Poster Image

The Greening of Whitney Brown



So-so tween riches-to-rags story has positive lesson.
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 87 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Positive messages focus around friendship and family. Kids will pick up on the theme that true friends don't lie about you behind your back or try to sabotage your other relationships. Whitney's growth throughout the movie may demonstrate how money isn't everything.

Positive role models

Mr. and especially Mrs. Brown aren't shallow, money-grubbing rich folks; they're selfless and adaptable and, in Mrs. Brown's case, instantly take to their new surroundings and situations. Whitney herself learns that being in the country has its perks and that she wasn't always the kindest person when she was among her private-school friends.


Whitney falls into a lake and then off of a tree. Dusty shoots in the direction of Whitney, mistaking her for an animal or an intruder. Bob wreaks havoc on the school dance.


Whitney flirts with Ben, as do a couple of other girls. The Brown parents embrace.


Some mild insulting language like "loser," "liar," "snob," and "sucks."


Featured brands include Mini Cooper, Dell, American Express, Tory Burch shoes, and Apple computers and iPhone.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Greening of Whitney Brown is a combination horse tale and fish-out-of-water story about a spoiled rich girl who "finds herself" after her parents lose their fortune and the family moves to a farm. There's nothing too objectionable beyond a bit of iffy language (mostly insults and the like), but the themes and subject matter (middle-school protagonist, mild romance, family drama) make this a better fit for tweens rather than younger elementary-school aged kids.

What's the story?

Whitney Brown (Sammi Hanratty) is a spoiled, rich middle-schooler living in Philadelphia's exclusive suburbs. Soon after she's elected student council president at her elite private school, her extravagant spending habits come to a halt when her financier father, Henry (Aidan Quinn), loses the family fortune. Along with her mother, Joan (Brooke Shields), Whitney and Henry are forced to abandon their posh lifestyle and move to Henry's family farm, where there's no WiFi or cell service, and out-of-touch grandpa Dusty (Kris Kristofferson) lives like a hermit in the tiny ranch bordering the property. Now enrolled at a rural public school, Whitney finds solace in the farm's Gypsy Vanner horse, Bob, and learns a thing or two about what's really important.

Is it any good?


Whitney isn't a particularly likable protagonist -- she's spoiled and self centered, like most rich kids in movies. "Country living" is supposed to cure her of her bratty behavior, but even once she learns to love Bob, get dirty, and sew, she's still not the sort of character most viewers will cheer. At the very least, Hanratty is a slightly better actress than her private-school pals, some of whom are so over the top with their cringe-worthy eye rolling and hair tossing that it's hard to watch them on screen.

What makes this particular tween confection unbearably unrealistic is how zen Whitney's parents are about their downward turn in fortune. Joan restarts a tradition by her late mother-in-law to make homemade jams on the farm, and even Henry seems more or less at peace with his return to the working class. Adding to the predictable plot is how Grandpa and Whitney get to know each other so well that they're sharing secrets by the end of the movie. Of all the characters in the movie, Bob the horse is clearly the most relatable. He just wants someone to ride him and show him the way. Horse-loving tweens may get a kick out of this story, but otherwise, you've already seen this fish out of water tale dozens of times. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about whether "reverse Cinderella" stories are as popular as "Cinderella" ones. What makes audiences want to see certain types of characters "put in their place"? Are those kinds of characters realistic? Does that matter?

  • What did Whitney learn about friendship and family while she was at the farm? Which of her friendships was unconditional, and which was based on her status?

  • Are tweens and teens as obsessed with money, designer brands, and luxury goods as Whitney and her first set of friends are? Is "class" an issue when it comes to school friendships?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 11, 2011
DVD/Streaming release date:January 3, 2012
Cast:Aidan Quinn, Brooke Shields, Sammi Hanratty
Director:Peter Skillman Odiorne
Studio:Arc Entertainment
Genre:Family and Kids
Run time:87 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:brief mild language

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Parent Written bynobbsy June 8, 2013

Not as Bad as Some Critics Say.

The film follows a familiar cinematic formula: a spoiled, self-centered, irritating big city girl, moves to a rural location where she gradually becomes less irritating, more likeable, and finally lovable. Usually there is a horse involved in the change and in this film it is a very unusual horse, a Gpysy Vanner, that has to be seen to be appreciated. What a horse. His Name is Bob. Bob and Whitney become best friends and then embark on an adventure that includes some laughably implausible events, such as Whitney jumping from galloping Bob's back and through the open doors of a fast moving freight train. Kids, don't try that at home! Overall, I think critics have been too hard on this movie, both for the implausible story line, and for Whitney's personality. My opinion is that the young actress who plays Whitney, exudes so much energy and charisma that it's hard not to like her even when she seems wrapped up in her "queen bee" role at her big city Middle School. When she becomes an outcast at her new rural school it's impossible not to siympathize with her. Kris Krisstoferson reprises his grumpy grandpa role from "Dreamer" and adds an anchor to a story that is a bit over the top. But hey, it's a kids' movie, and I have seen much worse.
Educator and Parent Written byRLLee April 30, 2014


The grandpa uses the word "damn" at one point, and the kids were embarrassed by the overly long scene of the parents lying in bed together cuddling. I didn't like the shallow interactions between the middle school girls. The rest of the movie was ok, though. Not great, but ok.
Adult Written byJanvierRain February 8, 2013

Boring WITH Horrible Acting

I cannot even begin to describe the horrid acting is in this movie. The story line is SO predictable and well- boring. For starters, the cast had zero chemestry together, the sets were boring and cheap. The only funny thing about it was how cheesy it was (I'm dead serious). It's kind of like- American Girl movie meets really awful Disney Channel movie. On the positive side it was very clean, and unless branches, trains, or horses scare you, the violence shouldn't be a problem.


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