1 hour, 50 minutes
PG Parental Guidance Suggested.
for some mild language
Tim McGraw ... Rob McLaughlin
Maria Bello ... Nell McLaughlin
Alison Lohman ... Katy McLaughlin
Ryan Kwanten ... Howard McLaughlin
Danny Pino ... Jack
Dallas Roberts ... Gus
Kaylee DeFer ... Miranda Koop
Jeffrey Nordling ... Rick Koop
Dey Young ... Esther Koop
Nick Searcy ... Norbert Rye
Buck Taylor ... Wagner
The original Mary O’Hara’s story on which this film is based, and the movie ("My Friend Flicka"), was about a boy (Roddy McDowall), his hard-to-control colt, and his authoritarian father (Preston Foster). This present version is about a young girl, Katy (Alison Lohman "Matchstick Men"), doing poorly at a fancy prep school and longing for her family’s Wyoming ranch. Home for summer vacation, she’s welcomed by her loving parents Rob and Nell (Tim McGraw "Friday Night Lights" and Maria Bello "A History of Violence"), who are struggling to hold onto the ranch as a breeding-place for quarter horses. While riding the range Katy encounters a wild mustang that frightens away a threatening mountain lion. Her dad fearing that the wild animal will spook his herd, ropes it with the intention of selling it to a nearby rodeo, but Katy persuades him not to, and begins trying to tame the horse secretly. When her dad finds out, he sells Flicka, but Katy connives with her reluctant older brother Howard (Ryan Kwanten - TV's "Summerland"), to win her back by competing in the rodeo’s wild horse riding contest. Finally Katy and Flicka find themselves out in the wilderness in a terrible storm, and that lion reappears, and they are in serious danger. It should come as no surprise that everything turns out fine.
The main problem with the film are the actors. You have little to root for in the irresponsible, shrill character played by Alison Lohman. And Tim McGraw again reveals the fact that he's limited as an actor although he sounds fine warbling on the soundtrack. Only Maria Bello and Ryan Kwanten seem to fit their roles. The film directed by Michael Mayer ("A Home at the End of the World" ) is presented in much too heavy-handed and mawkish a fashion.
Perhaps the worst moment occurs when Flicka’s taken away to the rodeo, and as the distraught Katy chases the trailer down the road, a rainstorm suddenly happens, out of nowhere, and she's drenched. You can’t get much more obvious than that, and if you were really cruel you might say that it’s here that “Flicka” goes lame. Overall the picture leaves something to be desired technically, too. Though J. Michael Muro’s breathtaking cinematography captures the lush vistas nicely, many of the action scenes, especially the riding sequence at the rodeo, are pretty much a mess.
There’s no question that “Flicka” is earnest and well-intentioned, with an abundance of good messages about family, tradition, working hard and protecting wild horses, but even they are compromised by the behavior of the young heroine that is both reckless and more than a little stupid. The kids will enjoy it, but you'd probably do better renting any or all three of the '40's films “My Friend Flicka,” “Thunderhead, Son of Flicka” and “Green Grass of Wyoming.”