May 30, 2010
Surprisingly enough, this isn't a horrible movie.
I know, that's not exactly a glowing first sentence, but it's true! At first glance, it's just another story about a girl and Pinto rising from friendless obscurity to compete against Sasha Cohen, who has inexplicably decided to ride horses instead of figure skate in the Olympics. Random? Possibly!
Moondance (and I will not pick on her name, because theoretically it's just as stupid as the name Crystal) is a lonely kid who has just completed 9th grade. No one will sign her yearbook, because she does not wear skirts and is therefore friendless. Fiona, resident antagonist, sticks her gum on one of the pages after pretending to be nice enough to sign it, leaving it very clear to Moondance that she should just stop trying. Moondance gets the message and bikes her way to the local graveyard so she can cry at her dad's headstone.
She picks herself back up after a rousing speech to herself/her dead father, and goes to her delivery job, where she happens to run into a Pinto she promptly names Checkers and takes to her backyard. She houses Checkers in her mother's art studio/storage shed, but this is short lived, as the horse has to go back to Tumbleweed Stables, from whence it originated. Moondance is crushed, but not in a way that makes me want to roll my eyes and check out of the movie. She's actually not a bad character in that the way she acts doesn't make me want to throw things at the television.
Strangely enough, a portion of this scenario happened to me when I was, like, nine years old. Friend and I were walking through the woods and a horse came plunging out of nowhere, befriended us over the course of several days, and then acted all betrayed when we tried to climb on it. A shoe string may have been involved. Because riding a horse you don't know bareback without saddle and bridle in the middle of the woods without any supervision whatsoever is a FANTASTIC idea. These things happen, people! It's shocking we weren't killed, now that I think about it. But, you know, we were nine. This girl is fourteen. What's her excuse?
Conveniently, she runs into Tumbleweed Stables anyway, strikes up a deal with crotchety Don Johnson, and gets to ride Checkers. Sasha Cohen comes along to point out to her that Pintos are worthless Indian ponies, and saunters off on her warmblood. Whatever. Don Johnson catches her trying to jump Checkers after that, puts a stop to it just to give her an English saddle, and then stalks off to drink in his office. Eventually he decides to help, and there are actually some training scenes involving lunging. COLOR ME SHOCKED.
A competition comes along, practically everyone in town enters it, Sasha Cohen and Moondance have it out, and there are predictable results. There's also more derogatory remarks about Pintos being unsavory in hunter competitions. Pintos and mustangs are cut from the same cloth, apparently.
It's not a bad movie, mainly because whoever plays Moondance manages to not be completely annoying. Except for maybe that scene in the backyard, and during the colic episode (because there is always a colic episode.) Yes, love saves all. Determination and spirit are all it takes. Friends...aren't important? Who needs them! Give possible step-fathers and step-brothers a chance. Antagonists are icky. You don't have to wear skirts and lip gloss to feel okay about yourself. Pintos are FINE horses, too. Thank you very much.
Verdict: Okay horse drama. Maybe not the best use of an hour and a half.