“In the West there lives an animal that runs wild and free. Its strength and courage symbolize our pioneering spirit. That magnificent animal is the wild mustang.”
In 1943 a very young Roddy McDowall played a young boy in the perennial classic My Friend Flicka. The film was about a rebellious boy who is given a colt to teach him responsibility. He eventually bonds with the horse and learns the necessary lessons. The film was followed by a 1956 television series that followed the adventures of Gus and Flicka and lasted but one year. In 2006, the story was revived in a remake filmed under the same name but shortened to Flicka before it was released. While the character’s last name was retained, the film went the route of a young girl instead of a boy. It was probably a natural choice. My wife stands as a perfect example of how much every little girl appears to like horses. When I was that age I was more interested in the tough-as-nails cowboys who rode them. The film didn’t manage to excite a very large audience and pulled in the small sum of $21 million. You might have expected the story to end there. It hasn’t. 20th Century Fox has brought back the friendly spirited mustang in a direct to video release, Flicka 2.
This story begins with young Carrie (Sursok). She lives in Pittsburgh and is very at home on the urban streets. She works and plays on her skateboard and lives with her grandmother. That’s all about to change when Carrie arrives home one night to find Grandma out in the middle of the street in a state of confusion. Suddenly the police and social services are on the scene, and it’s clear that Carrie won’t be living with Grandma anymore. It turns out she does have a father, whom her mother had left when Carrie was still a baby. Carrie always thought he didn’t want her, but discovers that Dad didn’t know where she was. Unfortunately, Dad (Warburton) lives in a very different world than Carrie is used to. He owns a horse ranch in Wyoming. No more concrete for skating. No internet. And no cell phone service. The two don’t hit it off at all, and Carrie does not want to be there. That is, until she meets Flicka, a somewhat wild mustang on the ranch. Flicka protects Carrie from getting bitten by a rattlesnake, instead taking the bite herself. Carrie is moved by the gesture and nurses Flicka back to health, bonding with her all the while. Jake (Dolman), a local aspiring country music star, agrees to teach her to ride. Before long she and Flicka have taken to each other comfortably and Carrie is off getting in trouble. The only lesson Dad can teach is to ground her from Flicka. He sends the horse to his hired hand Toby’s (Black) house until Carrie has earned his trust. But Flicka doesn’t want to be separated and bolts from her pen only to damage a neighbor’s property. The incident could land Flicka in a can of dog food, if Carrie can’t find a way to help.
I didn’t see the 2006 film, but there are references to that movie. Carrie finds a diary in Flicka’s saddlebag kept by the girl from the last film. I assume that the connection likely ends there. The 2006 film starred country music star Tim McGraw. This movie includes Clint Black instead. It’s harmless enough fun, and those horse-loving little girls, or little girls at heart, will probably love seeing the horses. That’s about the best entertainment value you’re going to get out of this one. The cast all do admirable jobs, although I was distracted by Patrick Walburton, who will always be Puddy from Seinfeld to me. There are some musical montages of young female girls singing moving country songs. It’s all so terribly predictable, but that’s not really a problem for this kind of a movie.
Flicka 2 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1. At times the image presentation is pretty impressive for a standard definition film. There are some vista shots with sunrises, or were they sunsets? The color and splendor of the cinematography there is quite impressive. The rest of the film is a fine, flawless work. Colors are natural enough, even if they only jump out at you in these marvelous vistas. There is some minor compression artifact going on here.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 isn’t quite as large as the image can be. Dialog is fine. I was hoping for something a bit more dynamic as we watch the horses thunder by, but unfortunately, there’s no real thunder. The musical montages are fine.
A Conversation With Clint Black: (3:53) While Clint Black shares some of his thoughts on his involvement with the project, most of the cast and crew join in for a Clint Black lovefest.
Running Wild – The North American Mustang: (4:38) The Sunset Ranch in Hollywood provided the horses for the film. Check them out in this brief feature. Learn a little of the history of the American horses.
The Making Of Flicka 2: (5:34) This is too brief to really cover much. It’s mostly short cast and crew story, character, and actor profiles.
Horsin’ Around: (2:37) Gag Reel.
I found that I was restless through much of the film. I can’t really tell you why. I just really couldn’t get into it all that much. Everything here has been done to death already so that I bored rather quickly. I’ve seen this exact story so often of late that I question the wisdom of reshooting the same idea so many times. Horse fans are the only ones who will be able to sit through this one without looking at the time every 6 minutes. My wife is a fan of horses. She has, at last count, 12,098,543,887 model horses in her office, mostly of the Breyer variety. She likes to collect and even paint them, sharing the styles with friends all over the country. That’s who this film was made for. If you ride, it’ll be a sweet little movie for you as well. “Yeah, I ride, just not horses.”
Here’s some proof about my wife’s horses:
05/16/2010 @ 4:23 pm
Oh my wow! You are absolutely correct, that horse she painted is gorgeous! Growing up, my sister had a collection of Breyer horses. Oh man, I admired those horses. I would always get caught trying to sneak them down off the self to play with them. She got tired of chasing me off, that she finally let me play with them. I could play horses forever. I made up different little horse families daily. I loved, loved, loved the Clydesdales. Okay, wow, that was a detour. Back to the movie.
It drives me mad when the do sequels to a movie that closed well. The girl writing in her journal signified that all was right in her world with her horse and her dad. End of story. I knew when I saw the title come out that it might not measure up to the original, and now I know my predictions were probably right. Bummer, but I might still rent it because my little ones aren’t picky and are content just to watch a movie.
I am super impressed with that model horse collection.
05/29/2010 @ 10:55 pm
very nice. i didnt know she painted so good they all look great from what i can see but the gold and flowered one is beautiful. great job ellen.
05/30/2010 @ 1:42 am
Well I got a chance to watch the movie and I must say, I thought it was pretty good. Granted, it didn’t have that freshness of story as the original, but I did find that it is well worth watching when you want a feel good family friendly movie.