Hollywood loves girls and horses: National Velvet, Black Beauty and Seabiscuit are just a few of the great stories that spring to mind. Now we can add Dreamer to the list.
Inspired by the true story of Mariah's Storm, a promising young racehorse that suffered a career-ending leg fracture but was nursed back to health and became a champion, Dreamer follows a similar arc. Kurt Russell plays Ben Crane, a gifted but down-on-his-luck horse trainer whose fortunes fall further when Sonador, the promising filly he's working with, breaks a leg and her nasty owner (David Morse) decides to put her down - despite the entreaties of Ben's young daughter Cale, played by Dakota Fanning. Ben persuades his boss to give him the horse as his severance pay when he's fired. It becomes Cale's dream to heal the filly and get her father to train her for the Breeders' Cup Classic, one of the most prestigious horse races in the world, not only to restore the horse to glory, but also her father and their family to their rightful place in the horse world.
While the film is predictable, every generation of girls deserves their own horse story and this one about banking on a long shot should pay off handsomely for children. Dreamer has a sumptuous look and a strong cast, which includes Elisabeth Shue as Cale's mother and Kris Kristofferson as Ben's father, a formerly great horseman, now estranged from his son, who is brought back into the family fold through the love of his granddaughter.
The chemistry between Russell and Fanning is evident and the resemblance between Russell and Kristofferson is remarkable. As the film's young star, Dakota, says, "one of the great lessons [here] is never give up. Everyone has a dream, and everyone has goals. Everyone's a dreamer. Even if it looks impossible, it's still worth trying."
The movie is rated PG.
- Philip Murphy
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