Fox // 2012 // 92 Minutes // Rated G
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // June 25th, 2012
An uplifting adventure the whole family will love!
Equine therapy -- where people with a range of illnesses from mental and physical handicaps to emotional disturbances work caring for horses -- works really well. It's used primarily with kids, and they bond with the horses, moving from petting to riding and eventually to caring for the horse (by doing things like cleaning stables and getting food/water). It offers a calming environment for those who need it and a sense of accomplishment for those struggling to take control of their lives. The only downside is that the horses (at least those that work with emotionally disturbed children) age much faster than their non-working counterparts. It's almost as if transference occurs between the disturbed patients and their horses: the children get more calm, but the horses grow more nervous and eventually can't do therapy any more. Of course, you'll never learn this in the family friendly Flicka franchise. Nope, these films are all about plucky young girls overcoming their emotional difficulties with the help of a faithful horse. Flicka: Country Pride is no different, offering family friendly drama for those not looking to push their narrative boundaries.
Kelly (Kacey Rohl) lost her father in a truck accident, and now she and her mother have been left to run the Cherry Creek Farms horse ranch in Wyoming. Things are not looking good for the ranch when Kelly's mom hires Toby (Clint Black, Flicka 2) to manage the stables. Though Kelly has been withdrawn (and even given up riding for the Cherry Creek equestrian team), but with Toby comes the black mustang Flicka, who slowly draws Kelly out of her shell.
Here's what you're gonna get from Flicka: Country Pride:
* Family-friendly Drama. Though there's a tinge of tragedy because of the death of Kelly's father, this is a film all about the triumph of the human spirit and what we can learn from animals. There's a teensy bit of romance, a lot of family bonding, and even some sports-film sequences late in the feature.
* Pretty Horses. Though this is far from the best horse flick out there, Flicka: Country Pride does feature a number of sequences of riding in the wide-open country of Wyoming. The horses are beautiful, the riding shots frequent, and the climax at a jump competition offers the always-interesting sights of horses jumping over posts and such.
* A Plucky Teenage Heroine. Kelly of course is the main attraction going from moody/withdrawn self to (I hope I'm not spoiling anything) successful rider by the film's end. She's a fine enough role model for young girls and her angst is easy to identify with.
* Loads of Life Lessons. On the back of Kelly's maturation we get lots of advice from Toby (much of it horse-themed) about living life. They're all solid lessons (like don't be a jerk) and the consistent use of riding and horse metaphors is impressive.
* A decent Blu-ray release. Filmed in 1.78:1 high definition widescreen, Flicka: Country Pride looks good, but not great. Detail is strong, though not perfect, and colors are generally warm but not too punchy. There are no appreciable compression or authoring artifacts. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio mix fares similarly. The clean, clear dialogue comes out of the front with no problems, but the rest of the soundstage gets only sporadic use. The music is well-balanced, though it won't win any awards. Two featurettes are the main extras. A 12-minute making-of featurette and a casting featurette on the Black family,with interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and moments from the film. There's also a music video for "Let Go."
Here's what you won't get from Flicka: Country Pride:
* Originality. Nope, this is a formulaic flick(a). About the only thing that's even remotely new about it is that it mixes family drama, horse drama, and sports drama all together in a G-rated package. It's the same basic story that Flicka and Flicka 2 mined, and those weren't exactly stellar examples of cinematic originality, either.
* Great acting. Everyone does a fine enough job but there's a bit too much "aww shucks" on display for me.
* A massive budget. One of the things that distinguishes this flick from its predecessors is the step-down in budget. That leads to a bit of hurry in making some of the horse scenes shine, and some of the stunts probably would have been bigger if the budget had allowed. It's not something youngsters will notice, but parents might find themselves seeing this production as a bit low-rent.
Flicka: Country Pride is not my kind of film, and it's probably not most people's kind of film. However, for those looking for a family friendly film to watch with a younger child (in the 5-10 range), especially young girls, Flicka: Country Pride offers just that. The Blu-ray doesn't come loaded with special features, but for those in the target demographic, the quality of the package is worth a rental or a purchase.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 92 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated G
* Music Video