Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken



Girl-and-her-horse story with some peril might inspire kids.
  • Review Date: January 20, 2012
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1991
  • Running Time: 88 minutes

What parents need to know

Educational value

This movie intends to entertain, not educate, but in some ways it captures the realities of the Great Depression. 

Positive messages

Through her actions, Sonora shows that, as one of the characters says, "If you want something bad enough, anything's possible." 

Positive role models

Sonora refuses to take "no" for an answer as she pursues her dream of being a "diving girl" in the carnival. She perseveres through tragic circumstances.

Violence & scariness

Sonora has a major accident with injury near the end of the movie. Several brief fisticuffs and shoving matches. Sonora bloodies her nose while learning how to jump on a moving horse. Some of the scenes of Sonora and the horse diving from the high dive into the water-filled tub may be a bit scary. Sonora is verbally bullied by kids in her hometown after she cuts her hair.

Sexy stuff

Two characters who later fall in love and get married briefly kiss after having a swim in a pond together. 

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this coming-of-age story of a determined and persistent young orphan might be inspiring for young viewers and teach them a bit about the Great Depression. Sonora falls quite a bit while training and bloodies her nose, and a major injury later in the film may be tough to take for younger viewers. But on the whole, the film is filled with positive messages of self-reliance and pursuing your dreams.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Sonora Webster (Gabrielle Anwar) runs away from her aunt's home in Great Depression-era Waycross, Georgia, before being sent into foster care, deciding she will be a "diving girl" in a traveling carnival. She must persuade the owner of the carnival, the stubborn Dr. W.F. Carver (Cliff Robertson) that she has what it takes. Through tenacity, hard work, and the tireless assistance of a card shark named Al (Michael Schoeffling), Sonora masters the art of hopping on a horse as it runs past and off a high diving board into a tub of water below. Sonora encounters many obstacles along the way, but will stop at nothing to fulfill her dream of being a performer in Atlantic City.

Is it any good?


Despite the formulaic story, WILD HEARTS CAN'T BE BROKEN stands out from the pack through its evocation of the Depression era and through its representation of traveling carnival life through those difficult times. 

Though characters essentially stick to archetypes of the "comeback kid" form, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken does take some unanticipated twists in the storyline, and for those in the family who love horses, this film should prove to be an enjoyable and inspiring experience.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what makes Sonora a positive role model. How does she make her dream of being a "diving girl" a reality, even when everyone around her tells her she can't do it? 

  • How accurately do you think the film reflects the realities of the Great Depression? How can you find out more about real life during the Depression?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:May 24, 1991
DVD release date:January 17, 2006
Cast:Cliff Robertson, Gabrielle Anwar, Michael Schoeffling
Director:Steve Miner
Studio:Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Topics:Great girl role models, Horses and farm animals
Run time:88 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Parent Written bykamander March 8, 2013

Too sad to be the best

Some parts were really sad.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models


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