This week our galloping film critic Amanda Ronan takes a look at Flash, a 1997 made-for-tv Disney movie that she says will “warm the cockles” of your heart.
Flash (1997) opens with two Georgia boys discussing a horse named Flash. Flash is priced to sell at $500.
Connor, played by Lucas Black, doesn’t waste any time. He brings up the colt first thing at dinner. “He’s cheaper than a computer. He’s the coolest thing I ever saw!” Valid arguments, Connor.
But, sadly, Dad doesn’t go for the deal. So Connor, and his very sly Granny, find him a job as a stockboy at a local grocery store three days a week. He makes $32.16 a week, so he should
have Flash in a few months, “June 18th to be exact.” Unfortunately, Connor doesn’t gather enough money in time. Flash is bought by someone else! That someone is Connor’s dad!
But to earn enough money to keep the family farm, Connor’s dad is forced to take a five-month job with the merchant marines leaving Granny and Connor at home. But don’t worry, Connor has plenty to keep him busy. He meets a new friend, Tad, and his horse, B18.
Tad’s the nice son of the not-so-nice, rich mill owner who doesn’t like to over-sentimentalize animals by giving them real names. He also has to learn to steer and stop Flash. Tricky details.
After the bank takes back mortgage payments out of the family’s savings account, Connor and Granny are faced with hard times. The 61-year-old Granny takes a night shift at the mill. Times
are tough, Granny’s tired all the time and they only ever talk through written notes, but it seems like they’re going to make it. With just a few month left to go, though, Granny faints from exhaustion and then suffers a mild heart attack.
And then Granny passes away, and due to a hurricane in the Indian Ocean, Connor can’t even telephone his father’s ship. Connor is forced to plan his own grandmother’s funeral, but he doesn’t have any money to pay for it. So he sells (gulp) Flash (sob). Grab the tissues…
Flash is sold to Tad’s father. Connor also negotiates a deal to work in the stable, just to be near Flash. Then, Connor loses his house and is on the run… hiding from potential foster care.
Meanwhile, things aren’t going so great for Flash either. After a particularly bad day at his first show, Tad’s father whips him severely. Connor confronts him about the abuse and offers his help in training Tad to ride.
The team heads to a horse trial and after Dressage and Cross Country, Tad and Flash are in the lead!
They finish Stadium in second place! Tad’s father freaks out, though. He believes Tad would have won if he had used the whip “like a man.” Consequently, Tad freaks out and beats Flash. Tad comes back later that night to apologize, but Flash lashes out and paws him in the arm. Tad’s father tries to shoot Flash! Connor’s had just about enough… and I agree with him.. .so
they flee into the night!
What’s the plan? Obvs… They head “east” to New York, where Dad’s ship is coming in! I say “east” because that’s what the movie said, but if they’re in Georgia and they’re going to New
York… Meh, details!
Carrying on. Several near misses with police, thunderstorms, and state lines later, Connor and Flash find themselves in a horse race in North Carolina. They win!
The $200 prize money helps him and Flash hop a train to New Jersey. But with just 80 miles left to go, Flash spooks deboarding the train and injures his leg.
Will they make it to New York harbor and find Dad? Will Connor be arrested for stealing Flash from Georgia? You’ll just have to watch and see!
Implausible, yes. Impossible, most likely. But still, this tale of a boy and his horse against ridiculously insurmountable odds warmed the cockles of my heart. Besides, who doesn’t love Lucas Black? He either knew how to ride before this movie, which would be impressive, or he actually learned to ride on set, which might be even more impressive. Either way, he knew how to trot and canter the horse, which for a made-for-TV movie is awesome. And that Alabama accent…you “cain’t” fake that.
I give Disney’s Flash 3 Golden Horseshoes.
Watch it now!