Appellate Judge James A. Stewart cried with joy when Flicka returned at the end. This way, there's no Flicka 3.
"In the West there lives an animal that runs wild and free…"
We're talking, of course, about wild mustangs in general and Flicka in particular. At the start of Flicka 2, the untamed jet-black mustang is hanging around Hank McLaughlin's ranch, a generally uncontrollable nuisance since Hank's niece Katy McLaughlin (the girl in 2006's Flicka) went away to college.
Enter Hank's daughter, Carrie (Tammin Sursok, Home and Away). There's a family history, but little else, between Hank (Patrick Warburton, Seinfeld) and Carrie: Hank's wife left him, taking Carrie. The mother died. Carrie was raised by her grandmother in Pittsburgh (which apparently was played by Vancouver), until her grandmother was put in a home. Now, Carrie's stuck in Wyoming (played by British Columbia), where the cell phone reception "sucks," and Hank doesn't even have a dish, relying instead on an antenna that only seems to pick up Westerns and lawnmower racing.
Carrie hates the ranch, until she meets Flicka. Carrie has only seen horses on TV, but she learns to ride a wild mustang quickly, with the help of cowhand Jake (Reilly Dolman, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief), which angers neighbor Amy (Emily Tennant, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), a champion rider who is interested in Jake. Actually, it turns out that Amy is even more interested in Flicka, which proves problematic when Flicka busts her father's fence as part of a convoluted chain of events that could send Flicka to the slaughterhouse. There's one more thing: country singer Clint Black (Maverick) plays a ranch hand who offers Hank advice on raising a daughter.
Patrick Warburton fleshes out Hank into a caring, if awkward, father who regrets missing out on raising his daughter, getting into the cliche of the strong, silent cowboy to steer clear of overacting. Tammin Sursok has some overemotional moments, but I'd blame bad writing. A girl who held down a job and took care of her frail grandmother is pouting when she's faced with life on a ranch, and then suddenly loses the pout when she encounters a horse for the first time? It's also a bit amazing that Carrie turns out to be a horse whisperer so quickly. She's not bad with the slapstick scenes of adjusting to farm life and makes conversations with a horse (one who, unlike Mr. Ed, doesn't answer back with wisecracks) seem sort of believable, though. Clint Black and Reilly Dolman do a good job as ranch hands, even if they don't get much to do. Emily Tennant as Amy and Ted Whitall (Wicker Park) as her father have a little too much sneer as the cardboard villains, so much so that they should be wearing black hats and twirling mustaches.
Flicka 2 pretty much sticks to the ranch, so there's not much to it visually. The score is pop, rather than folk and country (Clint Black doesn't get to do enough in this department, either). The music is generally non-offensive, but its generic sound doesn't really say Wyoming—or Pittsburgh, for that matter. Still, it looks and sounds okay. My screener was non-anamorphic, but I'm aware there could be a variation in the finished product.
The extras are short, around 15 minutes total. What's here isn't bad, though. "A Conversation with Clint Black" lets you know that he ad-libbed a lot and helped Reilly Dolman learn the guitar. "Running Wild: The North American Mustang" provides some interesting information on training wild mustangs and the history of the horse, kept short and simple for the little ones. "The Making of Flicka 2" shows the horse wranglers, and avoids saying outright that the movie was shot in Canada. "Horsin' Around" is a typical flub reel.
If you want a harmless horse movie for your kids, I'd suggest rustling up Flicka (2006) instead of this sequel. There's more of what you really want from a movie like this, namely the scenes of wild horses running through picturesque mountains. It also boasts a quirkier soundtrack and a little bit better storytelling. Still, Flicka 2 isn't painful—just superfluous.
Guilty of being predictable. And since it's the second time around, even I'd predicted that.
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