Maria Bello gives a wasted performance in the Tim McGraw vehicle Flicka, a by-the-numbers family film that is such a retread of other more competent efforts, one wonders, What is the point? Alison Lohman plays McGraw’s teenage daughter and friend-to-Flicka, a role type that was much better utilized in classics, such as Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, and Summer of the Monkeys. Lohman is the precocious adolescent, who struggles through boarding school, and her relationship with gruf…-farmer daddy McGraw. McGraw is mis-cast in most everything he’s in, being too hip, new-wave country sissified to qualify as a) a tough guy (in this film), and b) an ex-high school football star (see Friday Night Lights). In other words, his time would be better spent returning to Nashville for more of those inane little suck-tracks like “Don’t Take the Girl.” He’s a poor actor with limited range, and his performance in Flicka confirms it.
An even more noteworthy problem the film suffers from is the same plot formula we’ve seen for over fifty years in novel and film. Teenager clashes with parent because they’re just alike. Parent and teenager neither one realize, or admit to, the similarity. When they finally do, fences are mended, and the real healing begins, all so we can get that warm fuzzy the studio wants from us. End of story. Somewhere along the way, the dog or deer or buffalo or goat incurs some kind of tragedy, which may or may not result in death, depending on the sadism of the filmmakers. I won’t tell you which way this ends up, but I will say Flicka follows the formula, and doesn’t depart one inch from it.
The 2.35:1 presentation is much crisper and less obtrusive than the 1.33:1 full screen, but both are included per your preference. Blacks go deep, providing a nice contrast to the vibrant colors and gorgeous settings depicted in the film. The image comes through with all the clarity one should expect from a recent feature of such production values, and does not disappoint.
Three tracks are included – a preferred Dolby Digital 5.1, and two 2.0 tracks (French and Spanish). The 5.1 has a few opportunities to shine, most coming in the rodeo climax and Lohman’s horseback escape through the mountains. The track maintains a consistent tone throughout, with volume for dialogue and action dealt out in equal measures. With the exception of the film’s climax, a 2.0 track should suit most viewers fine.
Fox has loaded this disc up with the following bonus materials: “Daddy’s Little Girl” Music Video, bloopers, a gag reel, three deleted scenes, and a Making-Of Featurette. Fans of the film should no doubt be pleased, while others of us discover no insight that can possibly justify sitting through what we’ve just witnessed.
Watching an actress with as much talent as Maria Bello clean up after a sloppy cast is too disheartening after seeing what this woman can do in films such as A History of Violence. She is stripped of her usual strength and sexiness from the very beginning, and every weak effort to recapture it in her “scenes” with McGraw only dig the pit a little deeper. We have a professional in her field, and a man, who isn’t even mediocre in his own, working together as husband and wife, and I, for one, couldn’t buy it. If you can, then Flicka might be worth your time. The technical aspects certainly won’t get in your way. Everything else? Possibly.
Special Features List
- “My Little Girl” Tim McGraw Music Video
- 3 Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
- Making-Of Featurette