Who's in It:
Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Elizabeth Shue, David Morse, Kris Kristofferson, Freddy Rodriguez, Luis Guzmán
What's the Deal? Dakota Fanning gets a pony. And you're going to cry.
No, Really, What's the Deal? Dakota Fanning gets a fully grown racehorse with a shattered leg. With the help of her horse-trainer father (Russell), they rehab the animal well enough to race it in the Breeder's Cup. No spoilers coming or anything, but if you think there are going to be plot-based surprises here or if you're unsure about where it's all going, just take a look at the lush, sun-dappled setting and hear the sweetly emotional score swelling in your ears. They're clues enough. And you're going to cry.
How It Tricks You: This utterly predictable story pulls the rug out from under you by being genuinely moving instead of cloying, soft instead of loud, gentle instead of strong-armmanipulative and full of under-the-top performances from everyone except Kurt Russell. And he can be forgiven for it — his face is a little frozen-y and (ahem) not-so-emotive these days. He's got to get it out any way he can.
Child of the Corn: Dakota Fanning, finally entering her double-digit years, is growing into her innate 40-year-oldness. And she's so poised and self-possessed here — while at the same time keeping it as subtle as any performance you've seen from a kid — that you believe every single word she says. "My horse will beat every horse that shows up." Of course it will. You're Dakota Fanning, and you say so.
Typecast-o-Meter: David Morse, whose bearded baby face makes him a visually dissonant villain, is nevertheless building a small body of work as a Bad Guy. And his mean turn here is as the worst kind of horse-insensitive, racist creep.
How Much Tissue: A lot.