“Come’on Rainbow, you can do it!” HN’s intrepid critic Amanda Ronan weighs in on yet another movie featuring–wait for it–a damaged girl, an undervalued horse and an impossible dream.
Amazing Racer (2009), also known as Shannon’s Rainbow, begins with the tragic death of Shannon’s father… which as we all know is pretty standard horse movie fodder. What’s not so standard is the immediate curveball in the form of “the mother you thought was dead actually isn’t!”
Shannon ships out to Pennsylvania to live with her long lost mother, Christine, a doctor and avid harness racing enthusiast. Christine’s boyfriend, Eric Parker, just happens to own a harness racing stable complete with an undervalued, slightly injured, unnamed mare that Shannon immediately bonds with… of course.
After a teensy bit of teen angst (every movie has to have a little, right?) and the introduction of potential love interest Brandon (canoodling in the stall, please!)…
…we get to the heart of the matter which is the healing/retraining and racing of newly named Rainbow. Rainbow finishes third at her first race, so Eric decides to enter her in a small, claiming race under the assumption that no one in their right mind would claim a horse with a former injury.
But, of course, the resident evil overlord (and Eric’s stables biggest competition in harness racing) claims Rainbow simply to be evil. Mr. Evil then decides to have Rainbow euthanized just to spite Eric.
Eric tracks down Rainbow and brings her home just in the nick of time. With the help of formerly awesome, currently alcoholic trainer Max, Rainbow and Shannon once again go through the process of healing and retraining to set their sights on the prestigious Pennsylvania Cup.
With Mr. Evil hot on their heels can they overcome their emotional and physical obstacles? Do Shannon and Rainbow have a chance at winning the Cup!?! You’ll just have to watch and see!
Amazing Racer is filled with tons of “isn’t that so-and-so” actors and actresses that can actually memorize (if you’ve seen some of my other reviews you know this can be a real problem) and say their lines effectively. Trainer Max is portrayed by Academy Award winning Louis Gossett Jr. The mother is played by Claire Forlani, which you may know from movies like Antitrust and Meet Joe Black. Stable owner Eric is played by Jason Gedrick of TV series Desperate Housewives and Dexter fame. Love interest, Brandon, is from One Tree Hill. Other notables in the film were Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts, and Daryl Hannah. Steve Guttenberg (think 3 Men and a Baby, Short Circuit, Cocoon and Police Academy) makes a cameo appearance as well.
I unfortunately have no experience with harness racing so I can’t attest to the “reality” of those scenes but they were at least pleasant to watch and most of the actors did appear comfortable with the horses.
The movie could be a bit slow at times and there were a few very cliche moments amidst musical montages. I mean, honestly, is it safe for a complete novice teenager to take a horse out on a professional race track? Probably not, but what can you expect? I mean this is a melodramatic horse movie! So all in all, I found the film shockingly pleasant to watch. It was based on a true story which, for me, always makes this kind of thing more enjoyable.
I give Amazing Racer three Golden Horseshoes.
Amazing Racer is rated PG and is available on Netflix.