Release Date: October 21st, 2005 by Dreamworks Pictures.
The Cast: Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson, Elizabeth Shue, David Morse, Freddy Rodriguez, Luis Guzman, Oded Fehr.
Directed by John Gatis.
BASIC PREMISE: Cale Crane (Fanning) and Ben (Russell), her father, take a big chance on training Soņador, an injured horse, to win the Breeders' Cup.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Comparisons to Seabiscuit are inevitable, but theres enough sweetness and charm to make this a refreshing and mildly entertaining film. Cale is very likable and adorable young girl. When her father gets fired from his job by his mean-spirited boss (Morse), she is delighted that her family gets to keep Soņador, a horse that broke one of its legs during a race. Her grandfather (Kristofferson) is there to support her as well as her mother (Shue) who works at a diner. Cale bonds with the horse, although mostly by feeding her ice-pops. In one scene, her father sells the horse but it doesnt take him too long to buy it back to please his daughter. Thats when he surprises her with the rightful ownership of the horse and she boldly decides to enter it in the Breeders Cup race. The judges are initially hesitant to allow the horse into the race, especially because of the high entry fees which add up to $80,000. Cale humorously retorts that the check is in the mail. Predictably, judges chose Soņador as a competing horse. The once-injured horse now has a jockey who also had been previously injured. The race itself is very exciting and engaging, with nice reaction shots of both Cale and the mean boss who fired her father. The cinematography is particularly great in the scene when she bonds with Soņador in an open field with the sun brightly shining in the distance. The slow pace makes the film occasionally drag, but the plots wholesomeness and lack of sex/violence is like a breath of fresh air.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: The most moving scene is when Ben reads Cales story that she had written in class. The story poignantly captures the way Cale feels about Soņador and how important it is to have hope. Her true devotion and hope also reflects when she turns down $100,000 check that Bens boss offers her in exchange for Soņador. The ending is very rewarding and uplifting.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Predictable, slow-moving plot.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 2
THE BOTTOM LINE: A wholesome, uplifting family film that lacks originality and is often predictable, but its charm is irresistible.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)
The "D" Menu