PG for some mild language
Oct. 20, 2006
Drama, Kids/Family, Remake
Alison Lohman, Tim McGraw, Ryan Kwanten, Maria Bello, Danny Pino, Dallas Roberts
"My Friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara
20th Century Fox Distribution
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By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Daily Life Producer
- I tend to believe that if you’ve seen one recent horse movie, Seabiscuit or Dreamer for example, then you’ve seen them all. This holds true for the latest equestrian-themed film Flicka, a retelling of Mary O'Hara’s novel, “My Friend Flicka.” But, while there may be no new ground broken in Flicka, the film is still an enjoyable tale for the whole family.
There is one new twist to this old tale. In both the 1943 film and the 1956 TV series based on O’Hara’s book, the main character was Ken McLaughlin, a pre-adolescent boy. In this updated version the central character is a girl, 16-year-old Katy McLaughlin, portrayed by actress Alison Lohman (White Oleander, Matchstick Men, Big Fish). The other main characters stay the same as in the original.
The young and strong-willed Katy longs to one day take over the operations of her father’s Wyoming ranch. Her tough, but loving, father, Rob, is played by country singer Tim McGraw who made his acting debut in the 2004 football drama Friday Night Lights. He dreams of college and opportunities beyond the ranch for his daughter.
When Katy grows attached to a mustang that she finds near the ranch, trouble brews between father and daughter. The free-spirited Katy looks past the mustang’s wild nature and sees the horse’s potential. She names her new friend Flicka, which means “beautiful young girl” in Swedish, and wants to keep the animal to train her to be a riding horse. Her father refuses to allow it, citing the dangers of working with an untamed animal as well as the bad influence that a mustang could have on his quarter horses.
What follows is a predictable plot, as least if you’ve seen any of the other previously mentioned horse films. Predictable plot aside, both Lohman and McGraw turn in high-quality performances along with Maria Bello starring as Katy’s mother Nell, the voice of reason in the family.
It is interesting to note that Lohman, age 27, makes a very believable 16-year-old. Taking on roles that are much younger than her is nothing out of the ordinary for Lohman, in both White Oleander and Matchstick Men she played teenage characters.
Portraying youthfulness may not have been new for Lohman, but working with horses was. Having had no previous experience with the animals, the filmmakers created a “Cowboy Camp” for Lohman and other cast members. In just a few short weeks she became a natural in the saddle.
For McGraw, working with the horses was simply a return to his roots. He grew up riding horses in Louisiana and was excited to be around the gorgeous animals again. The country superstar also practiced roping as a kid, a sport that he was eager to take up again for the movie.
The film’s cinematography is quite striking. Horses are beautiful animals, and the filmmakers successfully capture their beauty on the big screen. They also capture the picturesque landscape with sweeping shots of the forests and mountains surrounding the ranch. The stunning visuals effectively transport the audience to beautiful Wyoming while providing no hints that most of the movie was actually filmed in Southern California.
While we’ve seen these characters and storyline before, the film does still pack an emotional punch. As the family faces a crisis we see them pull together to help each other when they need it most. Although you know where the storyline is headed, the performances still manage to tug on the heartstrings a bit. In fact, Heartland Film Festival gave the film its Truly Moving Picture Award, an honor given to films that “can move you to laughter, to tears, to make a difference.” Flicka does indeed accomplish this.
Overall, the movie is an entertaining family film. It is rated PG for mild language, but the objectionable content is minor. It teaches valuable lessons about family and responsibility. For Christians seeking entertainment appropriate for all ages, this film is a fun alternative to the more worldly offerings at the local multiplex.
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More articles by Belinda Elliott on CBN.com
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