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Dakota Fanning in 'Dreamer'

Movie Info


PG for brief mild language


October 21, 2005


Drama, Kids/Family


Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson, Elisabeth Shue, Freddy Rodriguez


John Gatins


DreamWorks SKG


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In providing movie reviews on our site, is not endorsing or recommending films we review. Our goal is to provide Christians with information about the latest movies, both the good and the bad, so that our readers may make an informed decision as to whether or not films are appropriate for them and their families.



By Elliott Ryan
Guest Writer Dakota Fanning possesses a preternatural acting ability that steals the show in every movie in which she appears. That talent is on display yet again in the new family film Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story. I am not sure how well this movie's plot matches the real story on which it claims to be based. But regardless, Fanning shows that she can hit the right note in scene after scene lending a eerie credibility to her character. That is a good thing in this movie since all the characters around her are making unrealistic career, financial, and family decisions.

Have you ever seen a sports movie? If you have, you won't be surprised by much of anything that takes place in this movie. But it is a movie with heart. It teaches lessons about following your dreams, not giving up, and building a strong family. It just happens to use sports movie cliches to do it.

Unrealistic characters and cliched plots aside, this is a pretty good movie. Fanning is supported by a highly acclaimed cast featuring Kurt Russell, Elisabeth Shue, Kris Kristofferson, and Luis Guzman. It is directed by John Gatins. He has worked as a screenwriter on a bunch of movies and an actor on a few movies. But this is his first opportunity to direct a film. For a first attempt, it was a passable effort helped by the solid cast.

It isn't very often that a movie comes out in theaters that is truly appropriate for the whole family. But this is one of them. It tells the story of the Crane family that has been fractured by circumstances that are never fully explained in the film. Ben Crane (Russell) lives on the family farm with his wife (Shue) and young daughter (Fanning). The family lives right across the street from Ben's father (Kristofferson) although Ben and his father haven't spoken in years.

The family has fallen on hard times. Piece by piece, Ben has sold off sections of the family's farm. The small piece they still own is in danger of being repossessed. He and his family take in a wounded racehorse that ordinarily would have been put down. While all the adults in the film know this horse could never race again, they keep it around in hopes of breeding it and selling its offspring. Perhaps then they could save their farm.

Without giving away any of the details, I'll just say that through a series of events, the horse will race again. The plot parallels the critically acclaimed film Seabiscuit in many ways. A race horse and the people sponsoring it battle against the odds to strive for victory. The ending of this film is never really in any doubt. But the audience I viewed the film with cheered the outcome of the race anyway.

Dreamer is a solid, family film. It teaches important lessons about things that are important in life. For Christians looking for an entertaining evening at the movies for the whole family, this should more than make up for the lack of innovative story-telling.

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