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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Walk. Ride. Rodeo. is an inspirational tale based on the true story of teen Amberley Snyder (Spencer Locke), a promising rodeo competitor who suffered a severe spinal cord injury in an auto accident. The movie portrays her recovery, both physical and emotional, as well as her journey back to participation in the sport she loves. Snyder fully took part in making the movie, including doing all of the stunt riding herself. Snyder's fateful auto accident is depicted graphically -- and repeated in flashback -- and includes a rollover, seeing the vehicle airborne, bloody injuries, and severe pain. The scenes of the girl's rehabilitation are also intense as she struggles to make her body work again. Language is limited to "hell," and there's some kissing. Lots of encouraging messages are incorporated into the movie about holding fast to goals, acceptance of adversity, and the value of committed parental involvement.
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What's the story?
Amberley Snyder (Spencer Locke) is a very lucky girl as WALK. RIDE. RODEO opens. She has wonderful parents, loving siblings, and is looking forward to college. But what matters most to Amberley is riding. She's been riding horses on her parents' ranch since she was a very little girl. Amberley's good at it, so good that she's found great success as a barrel racer in rodeo competition with Power, her own special horse. A tragic accident changes everything. Thrown from her truck in an accident, Amberley sustains life-altering injuries. Paralyzed from the waist down, Amberley and her family are devastated. It isn't long, however, before her parents, Tina (Missi Pyle) and Cory (Bailey Chase), discover that Amberley is not to be defeated. With their help and the committed care of medical professionals, the teen determines not just to ride horses again, but also to compete in the rodeo. It's a daunting challenge, with serious ups and downs, but one that Amberley faces with courage and heart.
Is it any good?
A feisty, true-life heroine and beautiful horses offset this predictable message-driven story about accepting adversity and the power of determination and courage. Solid performances balance some of the rockier ones, and the efforts to create an honest re-enactment (guided by Amberley Snyder) are admirable. Stories like hers deserve to be told, and what makes Walk. Ride. Rodeo special is the awareness that the Synder does all of the stunt riding herself. Snyder, seat-belted in the saddle (which sadly she wasn't wearing when the truck overturned) insisted on riding because the method she's adapted is unique and couldn't be imitated by anyone. Fine for family viewing, especially for girls who love horses and stories about good people who "give up; give in; and give it their all."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what movies like Walk. Ride. Rodeo teach us. Clearly this story is about conquering a life-changing accident and accepting one's limitations, but how can the messages it delivers be valuable for everyone? Think of a situation in which you might have used a concept like "Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference."
Over the course of the movie, Amberley says "We don't always choose what happens to us, but we do get to choose what we do next." Give some examples of situations where you have found this statement to be true.
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