"Teenage Katie (Alison Lohman) grew up on her family's beautiful quarter horse ranch in Montana. She hasn't done well at boarding school and is in big trouble, especially after she brings home a wild mustang that she names "Flicka." Against her father (Tim McGraw)'s orders, she sneaks out at night and tries to tame the horse; when dad finds out, he sells the horse to a rodeo and Katie's heart is broken.
If you're a horse-crazy girl between the ages of 9 and 13, you will absolutely love this movie. Not only is the girl-horse bond strong, but so is the love between Katie and her father, mother, and brother. They are an ideal family and virtue overcomes all odds, as we know it must in a PG-rated movie. It's a simple and wholesome story with no offensive material, although if you're not a horse-loving adolescent, you may find it predictable and only mildly entertaining. Alison Lohman and Tim McGraw give sensitive performances as the headstrong daughter and doting dad, but Maria Bello is too young and glamorous to be convincing as the mother/wife. It's a good film for the target audience, and just in time for little girls to start begging for a horse for Christmas."
One of the best films of the year!
Eddie Lancekick | Pacific Northwest | 02/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Amazing that one of the most emotional and moving stories to grace the screen this past year went literally unnoticed. This film has themes of tradition, hope and despair embracing tones of freedom as well as true destiny. The actors are a patchwork quilt of talent that ranges from country star Tim McGraw to Maria Bello, and last but not least includes up and comer Alison Lohman. This amazing script pulls together better than any movie I've seen this year, and the core that it gets to when it comes to the West's history vs. the West's hurt is all wrapped up for a beautiful story that rides on the shoulders of a wild mustang.
Flicka centers on a Wyoming horse ranch that is run by the McLaughlin family. When the oldest daughter returns after a year of boarding school, her bright summer gets off to a rough start. As she braves the reaction of her parents when a letter about her performance in a certain class comes, she suddenly happens upon a wild mustang that she eventually builds an amazing connection with. What people on the outside cannot see, is that Katy (Alison Lohman) has more in common with this horse than she does with some of her own friends. The problem is, can she fulfill her ultimate destiny, or are her and the horse ultimately going to end up with the same future in which both are imprisoned?
Flicka is a great family film and it connects on levels of both the adolescent youth factor and the parent trying to make the right decision. As someone who grew up on a ranch myself, I can attest that the scenes of emotional struggle of what to do in order to preserve the future of the family farm are done very truthfully. As we follow Katy through her struggles, we learn to love her and the horse she now calls "Flicka". Flicka has been on the big screen before, in the 1943 adaptation of the book "My friend Flicka".
Country Music Singer Tim McGraw exceeded many people's expectations when he played an overbearing father in the film "Friday Night Lights". McGraw again does an excellent job here as a father (Rob McLaughlin) and husband who are trying to build for the future while not severing the past. Although the film centers on the various themes that surround Katy and Flicka's destiny, McGraw does a great job as Rob, and along with his wife Nell (Mario Bello) portrays a realistic ranching family that is melded together with hard work ethic and the importance of family.
Flicka is such a strong film because it also has excellent pacing. You never feel like there is a character you don't understand, a scene that was cut too short, or a theme that is over explored. It never feels rushed, nor does it drag and plod along. The majestic landscape is truly something to enjoy and for those of us who live in it, something to never take for granted. This film tells a great story, and does it without the use of foul language, Computer Graphics or the aid of a large budget. Now that I think of it though, it doesn't have to. Flicka is what more movies should be, something special that has that human touch to it. Watch Katy as she fights herself, the horse and ultimately her own blood before coming back around through some dangerous and scarring events to truly make it full circle.
Katy's writings of Mustangs and the West were great, and the special bond that a person can have with an animal is done with great care here. You may not like Flicka as much as I did, but you may like it enough for its meaningful messages and enjoyable pace to give it a try."
Large, inexplicable plot changes detract from a classic stor
Monika | Davis, California | 04/08/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Whenever I hear of a new horse movie being produced, I feel two mixed emotions - hope and skepticism, at the same time. I love horses, and I love a good horse story, but so many equestrian movies are overly romanticized and juvenilized, probably in anticipation of an audience comprised mostly of horse-crazy, pre-teen girls. And unfortunately, that's exactly the audience this movie would appeal to, and probably the only audience it would appeal to. "Flicka" is loosely based on the classic young adult novel "My Friend Flicka" by Mary O'Hara. Having read the book twice - once in my childhood and again last year when I heard of the upcoming movie - I was curious as to how the film would compare. The book tells the story of 9-year-old Ken McLaughlin, the son of a Wyoming rancher, who desperately wants a horse of his own. However, he is doing dismally in school and repeatedly makes mistakes around the ranch, and his father insists that he must begin demonstrating some personal responsibility. Finally he agrees that Ken can have a horse, in hopes that taking on the care of an animal will help him develop more maturity, but to his dismay, the boy sets his heart on an unmanageable filly he names Flicka, and an intense mental and emotional father-son struggle ensues.
The movie, however, is quite different. While the same basic theme of impulsive, horse-crazy child vs. traditional rancher father is preserved, huge changes have been made to the plotline. The most obvious of these is that the main character has been switched from a 9-year-old boy to a 16-year-old girl. The film begins with the family being notified that Katy (Alison Lohman) is being held back a year in school due to her failure to complete a final essay. In hopes of postponing the inevitable confrontation with her father (Tim McGraw), Katy goes for a trail ride and encounters a mountain lion. Conveniently, a lone mustang appears and runs the creature off. Katy, enraptured by this mysterious horse, rushes home and asks her father to bring the filly in. Having just gotten word of Katy's failure in school, he predictably says no. So Katy runs off and tries to capture the horse herself. Not surprisingly, she bungles the attempt, and her father ends up bringing the filly in after all, if only to keep her from joining and "ruining" his own herd of Quarter Horses. He orders Katy to stay away from the filly so, also rather predictably, she begins sneaking out to the corral at night, leading to a further cascade of events that build more and more tension between girl and father.
Ironically, the change in the main character's age is probably the biggest thing that keeps the story from being plausible. The writers simply did not adjust the dialogue or behavior to fit an older character. As a result, we see a 16-year-old girl acting like a child. Is dissolving into tearful screaming fits and declaring hatred for one's father each time something doesn't go the way you'd like a good way to convince one's parents that you're mature and capable and deserve to be rewarded? Not likely. Katy's father is not an ogre, and the film makes it very clear that he cares about his family, but Katy's explosions would be enough to turn any parent off. Behavior like this may be understandable in a 9-year-old (though even Ken in the book doesn't throw fits like his movie counterpart does), but a 16-year-old should know better. A 16-year-old raised on a ranch should also have some amount of common sense around horses, but Katy does not. She just hauls herself aboard the wild horse one night, not taking any time to condition the filly to the feel of a foreign body on her back and, predictably, is promptly deposited in the dirt. When Flicka finally does accept Katy as a rider, the girl decides it would be a great time to open the gate and go for a trail ride. And when Flicka, seeing her pathway to freedom opened, takes off at a gallop, what does Katy do to try to get her to stop? She begins screaming her head off.
Other changes, too, have been made to the story. In the movie, Flicka is a lone mustang that one day appears out of nowhere. In the book, Flicka is a part of McLaughlin's herd, only 1/4 mustang, the progeny of the ranch's Quarter Horse stallion Banner and the 1/2 mustang broodmare, Rocket. The original story is much more plausible, for it would be highly odd for a fully wild mustang to be found wandering alone. Horses are herd animals and for a wild horse to be separated from its herd is dangerous to its own survival. The other thing that really had me cringing was Flicka's incessant screaming and squealing after she is brought back to the ranch. Whereas domestic horses will whinny at each other in greeting and so forth, wild horses make very little noise, as doing so would alert predators. Anyone who has adopted a mustang can tell you that these horses are generally much quieter than their domestic counterparts. And as the movie progresses, the plotline deviates further and further from the original, until there are few parallels at all. In addition, just as Flicka's behavior in the film is unrealistic, so is that of the human characters. The dialogue is often juvenile and idealistic, and just not very believable.
Now, just to explain why I still gave the movie some stars, I'll refer back to my previous comment about it appealing to young, horse-crazy children, which is true. I probably would have loved this one when I was a kid. It is the kind of ambitious, take-on-the-world story that captures children's imaginations, and at that age they are unlikely to pick up on the unrealistic aspects. As far as loyalty to the book, I have been told that the older (1943) adaptation with Roddy McDowall as Ken is much better, but I have not seen it myself and so cannot give personal feedback. Finally, the DVD offers only a few special features. There is director commentary, a music video of Tim McGraw's "My Little Girl," outtakes, and three deleted scenes, only one of which (the extended bedtime conversation between Katy's parents) really lends anything to the story. Both widescreen and fullscreen viewing options are available. To conclude, I'd really only recommend this one to families with younger, horse-loving children. While it isn't the worst horse movie I've seen, I don't foresee it appealing to a very large adult audience. For older viewers seeking a good horse movie, "Seabiscuit" remains my favorite of those produced in recent years."
Mediocre even for a horse movie
E. M. Bristol | boston, mass | 07/15/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Flicka" is a Y2K version of the children's classic "My Friend Flicka," which is part of a trilogy set on a ranch in Wyoming. The book's protagonist is male and somewhat younger than the "teenage" girl, Katy, here. Alison Lohman does a decent job, but she can't overcome the fact that she looks WAY older than a teen. I mean, some actors you can suspend disbelief and others you just can't. The other actors do a good job with the cliched material, but another problem is that Katy's brother looks only slightly younger than her father. This really should have been corrected because it dampens the drama between the son and dad, who have a major conflict going.
Anyway, like the kid in the book, Katy is quite the daydreamer because she would prefer to be riding on the range than going to boarding school. She seems to be on good terms with her classmates, but she winds up failing a final, and returns home to thunderclouds. Literally and figuratively. Then she spots a wild mare running free and falls in love. Will she tame the beast and prove to her dad that mustangs aren't trouble? Will she show everyone that girls can ride just as well as boys, and have the potential to take over the family ranch? Have you ever seen a horse movie before?
There are also lots of ballad style songs, sung by the dad, Tim McGraw, that seem to well up at the slightest provocation. The symbolism is always crystal clear, too, so you don't have to worry about missing anything. Good for a rainy day, but there are so many other horse movies out there. I'd recommend "The Black Stallion" instead. Or better yet, read the books. And please. Before you go climbing up on your neighbor's wild horse when no one's looking, wear a hard hat. Forget the romance of your hair flying out, and avoid a possible concussion. Thank you.
Original so much better
N. Douglas | Hamilton, OH | 03/19/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"The original Flicka is so much better this one doesn't even compare. The parents in this movie are too young for the kids or the kids are too old for the parents. In the original movie the boy was a 12 year child not an out of control teenage girl. Very Hollywood.