This movie just came out, and should not be lumped in with the Black Beauty from the 90’s, because that one was pretty awesome. This one… I don’t even know. But if you want to be included in my confusion/amusement, read on! But be warned, there was so much ??? that this is a long post.
Our story begins with the local beautiful inside and out loser girl, who volunteers at an animal shelter. Her name is Audrey, or something like that. She tells us right away that she doesn’t get along with other high schoolers, and later some girls walking to their fancy Mercedes look at her wearing a dress with sneakers and laugh derisively to themselves. Now you know for sure that’s she’s hated by all, her conventional good looks being overwhelmed by that bit of dirt on her jean jacket. She also likes riding horses, but one time she broke her arm, and that is the first source of tension, as now the klutz can’t be trusted around horses.
Thus, the horse is introduced. Audrey goes into a trailer, like the kind they used in school when they needed additional classrooms because the school is overflowing with kids, and walks up to a horse that is a standing stall of a 2+1 horse trailer. It’s a little jarring, but maybe the trailer is kept inside the trailer, which I would totally do just to be able to have the chance to tell someone that I keep my trailer inside my other trailer, but I would venture to say that most people don’t keep trailers inside of other trailers. So my next guess is that someone out there refurbishes old schoolroom trailers to make them look like 2+1 trailers, which I suppose is possible. That could be a new business venture for someone ambitious.
Aubrey decides to name the horse Beauty. Also the horse is black, so that’s where the title comes from. Beauty is a small quarter horse, who appears to have a nice temperament, and I would guess is nicely bred for some western sport, maybe reining. Audrey says he was rescued from a city warehouse from an abusive owner. This is good information for little city girls everywhere who want a horse: Horses can be kept in warehouses, just as long as you don’t abuse them with spurs, which will get them taken away by animal control.
For reasons that don’t make sense to any horseperson, she decides he’s afraid of the sun. Yes, the horse, an animal who generally lives 90% or more of their life outside, and usually prefer to be outside, is afraid of the sun. This is making me think that this warehouse was the horse equivalent of Bio-Dome, with a greenhouse of grass for the horse to live in, with attached barn/riding ring/show facility (Wise grandpa later declares this a show horse) where other people brought their horses to compete against the legendary, mythological, black quarter horse, who would shrivel if the light of the sun hits him. No one ever defeated him, of course. What would the point of keeping your horse in a bio-dome if he’s just average and beatable? That’d just be silly, only the super best horse in the world is allowed to occupy the bio-dome.
There’s a sentimental scene of Autrey washing the horse in slow motion, kind of like a Baywatch beach running scene combined with someone washing their car. But then Beauty nails her right in the leg with his hoof, which is apparently due to her sponging an open wound in slow motion. Afterward, she wears breezy short shorts right in front of her horse hating father, flaunting the bruise, but when her father demands to know if the horse did it, she denies he was responsible. Why do you send these mixed signals Audbrey? Are you showing the bruise just for attention?!
Next scene, there’s some medical issue with the horse, which in contrast to most horse movies, sounds insanely serious and maybe this horse should be put down. It apparently completely shattered its hock, and has pins holding it together. The vet points out that the pins are bent, too. In normal life, I think this horse would be barely pasture sound, but our plucky hero doesn’t know about such things and begs to be the one to save him. The shelter decides the horse either needs to be transferred (makes sense, he’s in the middle of the city inside a succession of trailers) or adopted, and luckily there’s a country grandfather ready to take the horse on. Aubrey wakes up to him outside her house/apartment/firehouse? with a trailer and the horse, just like we all wish happened on Christmas morning when we were kids.
There’s another slow motion scene where they drive, dramatically waving hands in the wind, and flailing hair. But grandpa decides he’s had enough driving in slow motion and pulls over to take a one hour nap, which makes me wonder how he managed to drive all night to get to Audbrey’s house that morning. He conveniently stops by a beach, and I totally expected a real slow motion Baywatch scene where Audrey runs down the beach, maybe with Beauty grudgingly trotting behind her, but this movie just lives to disappoint me, and all that happened was Audrey standing on the beach while dramatic music played. I hope her boots were full of sand afterward.
After narcoleptic grandpa finishes his nap, they keep driving, and they finally reach his farm. We are reminded again that Beauty hates the sun and the trailer has to be backed up to the barn so Beauty doesn’t have to feel its terrible ultra violet rays.
Audrey wants to give him pills, and while it doesn’t show it, her method is apparently to rush the horse and stuff the pills in his mouth before he becomes self-aware. Not only could the horse easily spit it out, anyone who’s ever dewormed a horse knows horses don’t really appreciate this method at all. Grandpa comes out, and shows a different method: he sits in front of the stall and tells a super boring, rambling story while stuffing the pill in a slice of apple. It’s seriously the most boring story I’ve ever heard and I watched it several times trying to force myself to listen and I still can’t tell you what it was about. Rather than dying of boredom, the horse is intrigued and comes over, where grandpa promptly feeds him the apple slice. I’m guessing he got his training from The Horse Whisperer movie. Naturally, Aubbray is super impressed.
Grandpa, the horse expert, says that he doesn’t like the look of that hock. Audrey seems surprised by this. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think this is the first I’m hearing about his horribly damaged hock.
Then, it’s time for another montage. This one has the benefit of having a chicken feeding scene thrown in though, so I was pretty happy about that.
She’s also shown flirting with her grandpa’s farm hand, quite impressively at a distance of 50 feet.
A local horse expert, who is not a vet, and looks like he was picked up on the side of the road out of a ditch, comes to evaluate the horse, declaring that the horse is in pain, and that he should have been put down. But even though it’s as terrible as it could be, the mountain man believes that this horse can be brought back with diet, injections, icing the hock, and diet again (I think he forgot his lines). He informs them he will give them a roadmap for getting Beauty back on his feet, which makes me giggle because the horse is clearly standing on his feet already.
It should be noted that except for one instance after this of her giving the horse more pills, she is never shown doing any kind of care for this badly damaged hock.
The logical thing to do next is to have a montage of painting some fences purple.
Next, Audrey explains that Beauty loves apples (breaking news to everyone in the world: horses love apples), and while she does this, I notice how incredibly new looking the barn is. It makes me wonder if someone wanted to expense building a barn, and thought maybe if they make it a business expense by making a movie, they could write it off. Alas, I think I will never know.
But we do find out that Beauty is still afraid of sunlight and has been living in his dark stall like some kind of vampire horse. But Audrey doesn’t say much about that, so we move on to her mom visiting.
I didn’t want to point this out, but I feel like it’s so glaring I can’t help it. Audrey’s mom looks almost the exact same age as her. I feel like they could have cast this better.
Everyone decides to go to a BBQ, where everyone helps themselves to food and smiles at each other, while country music plays. Yes, it is another montage.
But then there is a dramatic reveal: The 4-H competition deadline is looming! Naturally, Audrey, who has not ridden since she broke her arm at age 10, and who’s horse is basically a cripple, decides she needs to enter. But only if he’s okay and recovered from that devastating injury. But, he’ll totally be okay by then!!
A Mercedes, the designated car of bitches everywhere, pulls up to the BBQ, where Grandpa points out that the driver of that beautiful car has won every year, and oh yeah, she’s rich and spoiled.
Since I was in 4-H, and as many horse people probably guess, it’s almost impossible for one person to “win every year” primarily because riders are divided up into divisions, where they compete against their peers, and so in reality, there’s anywhere from single digits to double digits (depending on show size) of division winners. I may be wrong, but I don’t think 4-H does a overall high point show champion. So this annoys me because fancy rich girl would likely be in the senior division, where as bumbling Aubrey would be in green rider division, not to mention one might even be western, while the other is english. They would not compete against each other, and even if the bitch won overall high point (if it is in 4-h), Auffrey could still win in her division without competing or even being near bitch girl. They don’t have to interact at all.
Aubrey is all excited about showing so she rushes to tell the farmhand, but then she finds him playing grab ass with a girl we later discover is…his sister. But Aubrey is devastated by this betrayal of a boy I don’t remember her talking to previously so she swings around and promptly runs into bitch girl, and has the fakest fall I’ve ever seen in a movie. I’m guessing she thinks a lawsuit paid out by rich girl would solve her problems. But rich girl is used to people trying to sue her, and decides to take the offensive by screaming at her for daring to enter her personal bubble.
Renewed by her dislike of rich girl, and the looming 4-H show, she decides to bring Beauty into the sun. But Beauty is probably confused by her misleading tugs on the leadrope, so he both walks out, and then backs up.
We also find out that his stall leads directly out into a paddock, meaning they could just leave the stall door open and let the horse wander in/out of his own free will, but I guess these people are farm micro-mangers, which is also why those chickens earlier lined up so perfectly for feeding time. STAY IN THE LINE OR YOU GET NOTHING!
There’s another montage of grandpa and farm hand building a fence, and after a tiring few minutes (she’s wearing the same shirt), she convinces him to come into the sun. He’s rewarded by her frenzied face petting, perhaps explaining why he didn’t want to come out in the first place. He knew he’d get lovingly wacked in the face if he did.
Now that he’s willing to come into the sun’s burning rays, they can began training. Luckily the farm hand and his sister are willing to train her to ride the horse. Audbrey is naturally thrilled to discover that the farm hand is actually a single male, and he’s just really, really, uncomfortably close to his sister. Farm hand explains that his sister used to ride and compete, but she doesn’t anymore because she got tired of rich girl winning all the time, due to rich girl’s poor sportsmanship afterward. I guess there’s no other shows anywhere else that this girl could move on to.
I was expecting the girl with experience to be the one riding him, but Audrey gets right on up. Luckily for her, Beauty was trained very well at his bio-dome, so he’s actually fine with everything. She rides around, and I couldn’t help but notice that she loses 15 lbs on every close up. How curious! I can’t really snark on the riding though. She looks like an expected beginner, and her thinner doppelganger does seem to know how to ride. She does manage to progress pretty fast, but I had a friend who was a complete beginner, but then stayed at her uncle’s house and rode every single day for 30 days, and was jumping courses at the end, so I guess it is possible.
Aubrey goes to a local tack store to look at something. Bitch girl is also there, shopping, and sees Aufrey with her grandpa and the salesperson. Aulrey is naturally excited about buying something, so bitch girl needs to go over there and put a stop to it immediately.
She walks over, and right in front of the two, full grown adult men, proceeds to belittle Audrey, tell her she’s worthless, her horse sucks, etc. I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was pretty harsh for someone she only met once in passing. The two adults do absolutely nothing to defend or protect the victim of this verbal attack. Audrey cries and leaves the tack store, and is hopefully pissed at her own grandpa for not defending her in anyway, but when he comes out, it’s apparent that she’s not. Boo. Meanwhile, bitch girl is not thrown out of the store, but instead demands the saleperson fetch her a crop, obviously just to boss the guy around. If it’s one thing adult men put up with, it’s being bossed around by a teenager.
As Aulfrey learns to ride, she becomes friends with the farmhand and his sister. Cue another montage of bonfire bonding.
The horse hating father comes to visit, and as expected, he still hates the horse. Audrey asks to move in with her grandpa so she can ride year round, and her father says no. Audrey cries, and then rides at night to soothe herself. It’s super romantic, just her, her horse, and the giant halogen flood lights from the nearby barn building. This arena is clearly (not) meant for riding at night. Also her shirt changes color a few times. Must be the lighting.
Her dad comes out, and they have a discussion that I don’t really remember. Something about how he’s concerned about her, and then she says she’s never been happier, blah blah, I’m sure everyone can guess the majority of the conversation. Dad is not convinced, but never fear, there’s still movie left to sludge through.
The day of the show arrives, and it seems to be a very, very, small show. Like maybe 10 competitors, and the majority of them seem to be 10 years or younger. No wonder bitch girl has been winning every year!
Audbrey is appropriately dressed, and Beauty is wearing purple themed everything. If it can be purple, it’s been purpled, right down to the yarn in his tail. Since everyone else is conservatively tacked up, I’m assuming they did this so you can still tell which one is the main character. Non-horse people can’t be expected to tell one horse from another.
The competition begins with the interview portion. As everyone who competes knows, this is an extremely important part of competing, because it gives the judges insight on your background and general horse thoughts. My lessons always began with questions from my instructor what she thinks are likely to come up during this, followed by reminders to smile brightly, and never bring up parelli or rolkur, because you don’t want the judge having any controversial thoughts while near you, it’s bad karma, and also you don’t want to end up being on youtube for your stupid answers.
Oh wait, that doesn’t happen at all. There is no part of a horse show like that.
The judge goes down the line of three competitors (Aufrey, Bitch girl, and a tiny child), asking each one important questions (world peace is always the right answer), and then asking each one to make a tiny circle. As in, they pull one rein until the horse grudgingly steps out and rotates 360 degrees. I’m glad they are including this, because I find it an excellent way to evaluate riding skills. Can you pull one rein long enough to make your horse turn? Then you are clearly an expert rider and horseman.
Next, we move on to the lightning round! All 10 competitors are put in the ring together, and go around on the rail. Then everyone goes in the center, while just a few go out at a time. It’s Authrey’s turn to go out. The announcer calls for something, and she’s going around, but then, disaster strikes! THE SUN COMES OUT! DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
I guess it was cloudy until this moment? I’m not sure, because I feel like the sun’s been out this whole time, but whatever.
Beauty, who’s spookiness bypasses any horse I’ve EVER heard of, spooks at the rays of light caressing his inky hide.
I’m guessing they opened an umbrella to get this effect in the movie. It’s a spook alright, but Beauty’s quarter horse nature seem to make him get over it pretty fast.
To make it more dramatic, Aupbrey goes into slow motion while she thinks about what to do. She thinks the right thing to do is dismount out of concern for the poor horse, but she will be eliminated if she gets off!! Thank goodness for our hero is such a wonderful person though, as she knows that the absolute correct thing to do when a horse misbehaves, is to reward it by dismounting. She gives up her dreams of a ribbon in a local 4-H show, and dismounts. The announcer immediately screams “ELIMINATED!!!!!!!” as though he’s calling a football game.
The camera pans out to the huge crowd watching this tiny show, and instead of being disappointed, or even concerned that Auifrey can’t control the horse, they all burst into applause. Everyone is super impressed that Audgrey dismounted during this incredibly minor spook, and think she is the best person ever.
Bitch girl, who is doing her turn around the ring, and shockingly, does seem to be the best rider in the entire movie, slams her horse to a stop and begins literally screaming at the crowd, “WHY ARE YOU CLAPPING FOR HER?! SHE’S ELIMINATED!!!!” But her fury does not sway the excited masses, and while Augfrey may have been eliminated, she’s still the winner of the day in everyone’s hearts. Meanwhile, I wonder what the other competitors are thinking, since they know nothing of the drama between the girls, and are probably wondering when the show will restart because they’ve been working hard on their partnership with their horse for months or years now, but they are nobodies, because they don’t have the loving heart of Aeelfrey.
Everyone just goes to pet Beauty (who is now completely fine still in the sunshine), and tell Aulfrey how amazing she is. She totally is the best person in the world for denying herself any kind of ribbon for the sake of Beauty’s mental health.
Her father’s heart is melted and he finally see’s the bond between girl and horse. But she still can’t stay the whole year at her grandpa’s house, because that would be stupid! (At least I think that’s what happened, based on her leaving in the next scene. It was really difficult to get through this movie).
As I hinted in the last paragraph, Aefrey is now packing up to go. She says goodbye to all, and they get in the car and drive. But before they can leave the property, Beauty races down the pasture line, and leaps the fence to stand in the car’s path. Despite appearing completely indifferent to Augdrey the entire time, he suddenly can’t bear to be parted with her, and suddenly has the jumping skills to fly over a four board fence. I knew you had it in you, unlikeliest of all horses to be a talented jumper!
Then our hearts are supposed to melt as Arrowfrey pets her beloved Beauty, but I just can’t do it. My heart is now made of stone, and this movie did it to me.
One day, I’m going to make my own, and it’s going to be the cheesiest of them all, filmed with my handheld, and the sound will probably be terrible. But I bet it would be better than this!