Friday Flicks: The Wild Stallion
A cutesy kid’s movie that touches on a complicated subject.
The Wild Stallion is a 2009 movie directed by Craig Clyde and starring Connie Sellecca, Fred Ward and Miranda Cosgrove.
“A story about two girls, CJ and Hanna. CJ lives on a ranch, Hanna comes to visit and decides to photograph wild horses for a school project. The girls become great friends and learn of a plot that might jeopardize the mustangs.” – IMDB
The movie opens with our plucky protagonist, Hanna, being shipped off to the country to spend the summer with her dad’s ex-girlfriend. Which seems odd, but good news! There’s another girl her age that lives nearby, so Dad guarantees a “built in friend.”
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to the ranch owner, Matty, her quirky ensemble of ranch hands and the resident baddies … a group of guys rounding up Mustangs for money.
The baddies are using a ‘Judas horse,’ a trick that involves letting a trained horse loose to infiltrate the wild herd and then lead them into a trap. They’re also working for a Big Bad in the form of a ruthless businessman named Novak.
When Hanna and her dad get to town, there’s hardly a warm welcome. The gas station doesn’t take credit cards and the local sheriff calls them “tree huggers” for wanting to take photographs of the local Mustangs just before making them sign liability waivers to absolve the county if Hanna gets hurt.
Finally the duo reach the ranch, though, and to Hanna’s eye … sparks fly.
Why is this kid being left with an ex-girlfriend from college again? Does that really make sense? Never mind. Moving on.
Matty introduces Hanna to CJ, an 11-year-old that supposedly works on the ranch, though all she seems to do is go on trail rides. Where was this job when I was a kid? The meeting goes okay and then Hanna tells Matty she has an interest in photography. She wants to photograph the wild herd, specifically a black stallion of local lore.
The girls find the stallion with relative ease and take some pictures, but Matty warns them not to show the photos to anyone. The baddies will surely use the information to trap the stallion. Instead of heeding Matty’s advice, the girls hang carrots in the trees to lure him closer, slowly desensitizing him to their presence.
And the baddies start circling like vultures.
Will the wild herd stay safe? You’ll just have to watch and see!
I’m not going to sugar coat this. Despite drawing me in with the guy from Tremors and the girl from School of Rock, this movie is a real stinker. The plot — though a tried and true trope of ‘plucky kids save wildlife from rich villains’ — just doesn’t work, mostly because the kids act like imbeciles and don’t respect the wildlife either.
On top of that, the dialogue is clunky and the director made the odd choice of using extreme close-ups for most of it. There are also some just plain bad writing choices including a plethora of insults from one character to another. Matty calls Hanna a “fruit loop” because of the way she dresses. CJ refers to Hanna as a dumb “slicker” on multiple occasions and Hanna returns the favor by referring to everyone as “hicks.”
The sub-plot between the two barn hands antagonizing the cook was also really weird. It did nothing to further the plot and, honestly, I’m not sure why it was even included.
Wild horse management is complicated and controversial, and, though this film really tried, it does nothing to further the subject. At the end of the day, tweens might enjoy this movie, but, honestly, you should really just put on The Black Stallion or Black Beauty for the millionth time and call it a day.
I give The Wild Stallion 1 out of 4 Golden Horseshoes.
Amanda Uechi Ronan is an author, equestrian and wannabe race car driver. Follow her on Instagram @uechironan.