Sometimes I wonder why we get caught up in these kind of films. Films about the underdog who comes through in the clutch continue to appeal, probably like those who play the lottery it could be me or in this case my horse that wins the roses.
Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) is a father to Cale (Dakota Fanning) and a horse trainer for a big money guy (David Morse). The horse Sonador called Sonya which means Dreamer is number five in the opening scene race as he falls and breaks a leg. At that point the trainer challenges Morse for pushing the horse too far too fast. The promising horse is to be disposed of until Cale (Dakota Fanning) asks her father to save the animal. The two men argue and overcoming his common sense, Russell's Crane accepts the horse as partial separation pay. Now the family has a horse and only Mom (Elisabeth Shue) has a job in the Backstretch restaurant.
Soyna's father was a three million dollar winner and she has the potential to be a winner, but broken legs usually cause the destruction of the animal. Kris Kristofferson is Russell's father they have issues which have divided them for years. But Fanning's Cale and Sonya have a mutual attraction. They eat popsicles together and see eye to eye.
Fanning is a cute young actress and this film can't help remind us of Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet back in 1944. But there is a difference in time which stands out. Taylor was a flawless beauty and went on to greatness in numerous films, she was perfect for her time. Fanning's burning blue eyes and flawed tooth allow us to see her as a young girl like many others but with a sweet intelligence and sharpness that sparks from her eyes. She is an actress for today. Just drinking coffee or watching the horse through a slit in the fence she is a delight to watch.
As everyone from Mom to granddad along with Freddy Rodriguez and Luis Guzman who ride and care for Sonya get it together - the horse is up for a spot in the Breaders Cup race. Here is where 2004 Red Sox fans will truly be hooked by this film. Sonya is cut on the leg just before the race begins (all orchestrated by nasty David Morse) so she must wear a bandage on the leg as a little blood shows on the wrappings.
The race is on and we can't help cheer on the brave horse and the little girl who now has controlling ownership on the animal. It worked for me; we may see this theme again and I will be in line to watch this uplifting style of screen play. It's fun.