I’ve had this draft sitting since January. At first I was super excited because it had just come out, and I was going to be the first to
make fun of review it. But now it’s been months, and I may or may not be the first. But anyway, here are my thoughts, with some revisions since the first time I wrote it! Revisions that you won’t notice since you didn’t see the first draft!
From an actual review standpoint, this movie is way too long. It’s 1 hour and 48 minutes. It’s almost unbearable, and I’m pretty sure this is why I never finished this review before because I couldn’t stand the thought of having to pay attention to so much boring movie. It should have been condensed significantly, with lots and lots of pointless side plot cut out. It might have been pretty good for a horse movie if they had done that.
Moving on to the actual plot, overall, this movie has really given me keen insight to the dangers of country living. I estimate the rural countryside of Michigan must be one of the most dangerous areas to live, particularly if you are dressed fancier than the country folk.
The movie opens at a fancy show. Priscilla is the main character, and she is getting ready for her round.
The commentators announce her into the ring. Apparently she is doing “Junior Jumpers,” despite it looking in every way like a hunter show.
I feel inspired to dress up for the next horse show I attend. I can only hope that my over-the-top outfit will embarrass any friends that might be present.
They say fancy rich people things in posh accents, such as:
- “Miss Williams is apt to show great control of her horse.”
- “Yes, her heart is really into it!”
- “She’s exhibiting even pace, as well.”
It is also mentioned by someone in the crowd that this horse was bought by her mother’s boyfriend for $75,000, even thought the boyfriend would be hard pressed to find that kind of money. Isn’t that sweet of him! But her expensive horse still ends up dropping a rail though, so this knocks her down to at least third place, according to her trainer/commentator. I’m not sure how he’s able to read the judge’s mind unless it is point based… my god, has it finally happened? Has hunter/jumper mated and created the Hunjump class?
Afterward, Priscilla spends some quality time breathing into a bag, while nearby friends/enemies make comments about her losing her nerve. She is standing outside of her horse’s stall when her commentating trainer appears. He instructs her to stop hanging on her horse’s face. She replies she was trying to open her up for more depth. I can immediately see why she’s having issues. He tells her to wait for the sign she is ready, and it’s not about speed. Jumpers everywhere cheer at this. Also, she has to believe in herself. He tells her that her training resumes on Monday, so I can only imagine that she’s not been in a regular training program? What a rebel!
After her judgmental trainer leaves, she whispers to her horse that they will be winners one day. If the horse cost $75k, she probably already was a winner. So really, you’re bringing her down, Priscilla. Just something to think about to further shatter your frayed nerves.
Priscilla goes to lunch with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend. still wearing her complete show outfit, where she tells them her training resumes on Monday. Since I assume some time as passed, it’s probably not as weird to her as it seemed to the viewer. Her trainer says “Training resumes on Monday,” and then seconds later in the next scene she says, “My training resumes on Monday.” But I digress. Her mother tells her that her and her boyfriend are getting married and they are taking a 4 month cruise around the world. Oh, and Priscilla isn’t invited. Oh, and also, she will have to go spend the summer with her father.
She tells them she doesn’t even know her father. He’s never even written her! I’m assuming he also hasn’t called, or emailed, or texted, or skyped, either. She probably learned that letters are the only way to communicate at her fancy finishing school.
Despite her resistance, they tell her she’s going, and she rushes out of the restaurant. She ends up back at her fancy barn, which leads me to believe that the barn and restaurant are one and the same. So this is either a Tryon style horse show facility, or the fanciest boarding barn in existence.
Charles, the mother’s fiancee, says he’ll send Priscilla’s horse with her to Michigan. What a super generous guy!
The next scene Priscilla flies into a small airport on a small prop plane that does not look at all like it would have been able to make the journey from the vague New England location all the way to Michigan.
She meets her father, Duke, who is played by Mr. Hercules himself, Kevin Sorbo. I kept waiting for him to use his amazing strength to save the day, or maybe Xenia, Warrior Princess, would show up too, but that did not happen. Hercules was also in Tommy and the Cool Mule as Nathan’s weirdo father, and also in another movie that I haven’t posted yet. Kevin Sorbo is really making the rounds in these horse movies.
She arrives in her new home, and seems underwhelmed. As they drive by an enormous bank barn, she asked where her horse will stay. Her dad resists asking her if she’s blind, and points out the obvious, “The barn’s right there.” She doesn’t do anything in her new home but go to sleep, and the next morning, ever the diligent horse owner, she puts on her show breeches and cleans out her stall.
The farm hand finds her and offers help, and possibly to introduce her to friends, but she tells him she takes her horsing very seriously, her stall is more important, and she is going to be spending her time stuck in Michigan training for the”World Hunter-Jumper Finals” in England.
During a lunch with her father, she waxes poetic about the fancy food at her boarding school until her horse arrives, which makes her happier than a clam on Tuesday. She abandons her father’s gross food to race out to the trailer and gets out Lassie.
This is when I first realized Lassie’s gender changes several times during the movie. Most of the time, it is a she, but sometimes it turns into a he. But at least Priscilla loves her fluid gendered horse dearly.
She goes on a trail ride down one of the country roads, and some local boys drive by and decide they don’t like her type ’round here. One of them tells the others to “watch this!” and then when they drive by he leans out and yells at her to get off the road.
At dinner, Priscilla and her father bond over his girlfriend’s terrible cooking. The girlfriend invites Priscilla to go with her to the rodeo, and she accepts.
At the rodeo, someone offers to buy Duke’s back 100 acres. He refuses. It is apparent this detail is important.
They watch some bull riding, and I don’t know bull riding, but the kid is still on the bucking bull, and the clown comes out to try to distract it while it’s still bucking with the kid. I thought they came out once the kid falls off so they won’t be mauled?
Then Priscilla sees a girl running barrels. She is immediately interested, and wants to do it, abandoning all thought of her previous hunter/jumper dreams. She shares her excitement with Sage, the farm hand, who is hanging out outside a camper trailer, although not just any camper, he’s got an AirStream. Fancy. Apparently everyone who competes in rodeo lives in camper trailers on the grounds (although not necessarily fancy AirStreams). Her pleas for training are cut off by her father and his girlfriend, who arrive just in time to tell her not to do rodeo.
Back at home, she harasses Sage at his home trailer, and insists he train her. He tells her she doesn’t have a horse. She tells him she has “the finest hunter/jumper” in all of New England and therefore she is sure that Lassie will be able to run barrels. Despite this brilliant reasoning, he continues to say no.
Since she can’t barrel race, and now abandoned her dreams of the hunter/jumper finals, she is super bored (as seen by throwing cards at a barrel, playing catch with a dog, and collapsing on the grass), and one day finds Sage riding a horse. She rides up on her horse, and tells him he will never catch her! She takes off on her fine hunter/jumper at a super slow canter that would make her a hunter champion, but somehow Sage does not catch up. Also noticeable is a ranch brand on her fine hunter/jumper, which seems a bit suspicious to me.
The trail ride together has melted Sage’s cold heart, so he agrees to train her. They briefly discuss his plans for the future, and he reveals he wants to go to vet school. She seems surprised that he doesn’t want to spend his life doing a low wage, manual labor job by continuing to work for her father for the rest of his life. But, somehow, it’s just not enough for him.
They begin the training by putting her in a western saddle, dropping her stirrups and tells her the clothes need to go/she needs to stop dressing nicely/dress more western. Possibly he’s just looking out for her life, for her upscale dressing seems to anger others to the point of violence.
She practices running the barrels, over, and over, and over, and over, with no variation at all. Sage continually tells her to “get it tighter”, to “keep her heels down”, to neck rein, and to hurry on home. I feel like a lot of preliminary work could have been done prior to just running the barrels over and over again. For instance, spending some time teaching the horse neck reining before just doing it. (Although I’m fairly sure I’ve seen direct reining in barrel racing anyway, so why couldn’t she just do that?)
She does listen to him on the clothing though, and ditches her neat english clothes for a plaid flannel shirt and jeans. Some other girls show up that wanted to hang out with Sage and they are dressed exactly the same, flannel plaid and jeans, so it must be some kind of uniform required for all barrel racers.
After first just holding it while she rides, she eventually completely ditches her GPA helmet, so I guess no helmets is also a requirement.
The girls showed up to hang out with Sage, but instead Sage tells them to teach Priscilla. They try to help by yelling useful tidbits such as “it’s not about form, its about speed!”, “get her going”, and “bring her home!” I will give her credit, at least she’s actually practicing. In so many other horse movies they just magically seem to gain the skills.
Sage refuses to help her as he is too busy chopping and stacking a crazy amount of wood. Priscilla becomes irritated he is more interested in keeping his job than helping her.
Her irritation drives her to assist him with his wood stacking. Then, she gets the mail, for no reason I can tell, but I did see some chickens, and really, that’s what is truly important.
She passes by Duke in his very nice vegetable garden, and he offers to take her to the cattle auction. She accepts, and gets a phone call from Sage. I guess it’s a really big property that he couldn’t just flag her down as she walked by. Also confusing – she had a smart phone this whole time and wasn’t glued to it during the moments of boredom!? How is it possible that a 14 year old would not be on their phone?! (That fancy finishing school sure did teach some manners.) But anyway, Sage is willing to train her again, so they resume.
She finds out about a show that upcoming weekend, and is determined to enter. Sage tells her that Lassie doesn’t have enough experience, and she fires back, “How will he get experience if he doesn’t compete?” Touche, Priscilla. Now, she just needs to get out of the cattle auction with Hercules, but she hatches a plan.
First, she goes to a tack store and buys a horrific looking American flag shirt with giant tassels hanging off the arms. She asks the clerk, “Is this what barrel racers wear?” He gives her a an incredulous look and replies “…I guess some of them do.”
The next step of the plan: Duke comes to her room to retrieve her to go to the cattle auction. She tells him she’s sick. He says she looks fine, and she replies that she’s got “The Pains.” You know, those pains. He becomes uncomfortable and quickly leaves. She bounds out of bed to watch him leave, and then rushes outside.
Sage shows up with an old truck and dilapidated trailer, and Priscilla is grossed out. It even has plants growing on the sides. Apparently Lassie is grossed out too, and won’t get on. Priscilla says her horse needs music to load to. Sage puts on country music. Not appropriate for a classy horse like Lassie, she needs classical. So Sage puts on classical music, and Lassie loads. I’m thinking the classical music helped drowned the groaning noises of metal about to break.
Sage tells Priscilla to change, so at least he’s looking out for her. He doesn’t need her to assaulted again based on her terrible fashion sense. She puts on a normal white button-up shirt.
At the show, she meets her new self-appointed nemesis(s), Rusty, who drove that white pickup earlier, and Savannah, who feels the need to make snide comments to her. Also, Rusty is shown coming out of a horse stall, dropping a syringe on the ground. Local barrel racing is cutthroat, and it’s time that Priscilla learns this. The attacked horse has to withdraw, and the rider even knows that Rusty did it, but apparently nothing can be done about that. The announcer tells everyone there that the horse was withdrawn, making me wonder why I’ve never heard such an announcement at any show I’ve ever been to. It comes up in so many horse movies…
Priscilla is announced as a “New Competitor” and does her round. It looks about as fast as glue drying, but she gets 3rd.
I walked away at this point, so I’m just going to fill in the blanks. While celebrating her placing, the dilapidated horse trailer collapses on top of Priscilla and Lassie. Lassie is bravely holding it up, with Priscilla cowering underneath her. Hercules, alerted to trouble by his 8th sense, comes rushing to the rodeo to save his daughter. He lifts the trailer off of them, and once they are free from it, molds it back together, refurbishes it and now it’s a new trailer. But now he knows that Priscilla lied to him about having cramps (a truth he’ll have to accept about women), and is doing rodeo, something he forbade her to do.
This time I watched it, and I laughed for the first time. Sage and Priscilla went to a barn dance, and she is leaning against the wall when he walks up to her, and asks if she wants to dance. They start to dance, and the music swells, and they look so happy. It’s abruptly cut short, when Sage says loudly and slowly, “DO YOU WANT TO DANCE,” because Priscilla is actually still leaning against the wall, she just started fantasizing about dancing with him.
While they dance for real, Rusty is shown walking up to Sage’s tire, with a knife. Duke meanwhile, has just noticed that Priscilla and her horse are gone. It’s like midnight at this point, so I’m not sure how Priscilla thought she could get away with this.
After feeding the dogs, I returned to the movie to find Hercules is yelling at her, and very, very upset about the deception. I think he’s also mad Sage for contributing.
There’s a scene of everyone is upset at everyone, and lots of emotional things.
Next, Priscilla is riding again, and Rusty’s white pickup is after her again. I guess they still hate her for that time she wore english clothes. This time, they chase her down, and prepare to throw a rope at her. Their efforts are thwarted by another car coming the opposite way, and Rusty crashes the truck. Later that evening, Rusty and his father show up to accuse Priscilla of wrecking Rusty’s car. How is this possible in any universe?! How could someone try to run her down with a truck, and then blame her when they crash? Ugh…
Rusty’s dad declares that Priscilla will never do rodeo because of this. I’m not sure how the two are related at all, but Duke doesn’t believe the Rusty family either, and at that moment, decides Priscilla can do the rodeo.
This time he is her trainer. She continues training by continuously doing the barrels over and over again, but I’m just going to put out there, this horse is way too slow. I’m not a barrel racer and I can tell this is one of the slowest horses I’ve ever seen. No matter how close she gets to the barrel, how “tight” she gets it, or whatever lead she starts on, this horse is not getting any faster. But the movie wants us to think she’s getting better, and they do this by the crazy movie magic of switching the horse for a different one.
There is a stream of rodeo runs, each time placing her third. Eventually, she is informed that with just one more placing, she will qualify for the youth finals. She is surprised by this, so I guess someone signed her up for this organization without her knowledge.
But then a jealous tornado comes by, determined to thwart their plans. Priscilla is desperate to go check on Lassie, but Sage drags her down to the safety of the basement. Eventually her father returns, and even though he wants everyone to stay in the basement, they all go out to check on Lassie.
But even more trouble was brewing! While the tornado distracted them, Rusty, has come by to feed Lassie. He is just such a great guy, coming by to make sure Lassie is okay. He filled up a 5 gallon bucket with a mix of sweet and pellet and left it in her stall. He was just doing them a favor, taking care of their horse while they were all hiding!
But it turned out his generosity was actually nefarious, as the grain caused Lassie to colic. Sage declares this a horrible, awful, no good colic, and that her intestines are probably twisted. Hercules wants them all to go back to shelter, but Priscilla says she can’t leave Lassie like this. So her father tells Sage to get his gun, causing Priscilla to start cry-screaming. She is well trained in bending men to her will, so he relents and allows her just to stay with the horse while he single-handedly fends off the tornado.
Sage and Priscilla take turns walking Lassie. Her terrible, awful colic is resolved by morning. Sage really will be the most amazing vet ever. Not only did he cure her, Lassie is immediately ready to compete with no ill effects from the colic.
She competes the next day and earns a 2nd, knocking out Rusty’s girlfriend to third. Rusty’s girlfriend has to spend time scowling in her trailer to deal with this.
Back at home, her mother shows up. Priscilla is super excited because now she can finally see her compete at finals! (Mother missed all her previous hunter/jumper competitions). After a heart warming reunion, Priscilla is sent to the barn while the adults talk.
Once Priscilla is out of the room, Priscilla’s mom turns into cold business woman. Turns out that she is actually broke, and now they need to sell the horse immediately. As in, that day, the guy will show up to take the horse. Jeez, that’s a fast sale for a $75,000 horse. She must have the best marketer/trainer ever! Priscilla is understandably upset, and goes out to cry in the barn.
Turns out, the new buyer is Rusty and his father. Priscilla’s mom really wanted to rub in what a cold hearted bitch she is. Rusty comes into the barn to get Lassie, complete with whip in hand, even telling Priscilla, “I’ll whip her if I want to!” I think this guy is a real psychopath, who on earth acts like this?!
Luckily, Duke is there to prevent the animal abuse, and the horse is loaded up. Priscilla mom collects her crying daughter from the driveway, and they go off to a hotel. After hiding out in the bathroom for a while, she sneaks out when her mother has gone to sleep. She somehow walks all the way to Lassie’s new barn and steals her. They disappear out into the night.
The next morning, Duke can’t stand it anymore, and decides to trade his back 100 acres for the horse. Rusty’s father and Duke go to collect the horse and discover it missing. They figure out that Priscilla is also missing, and decide to go look for her. Duke detaches his trailer to leave it at Rusty’s house, and off they go. Rusty watches them leave, and then takes off in what must be his replacement truck, a brand new, fancy navy blue one.
Rusty must have physic powers, because he immediately knows where to go to find Priscilla, and heads to an abandoned barn where Lassie is tied up outside. Rusty aggressively enters the barn with rope, and tells her he’s going to tie her up. He attacks Priscilla, but luckily Sage comes in to save her. Rusty grabs a pitchfork and ties to kill Sage. This guy is seriously crazy.
Priscilla uses the rope to yank the pitchfork out of Rusty’s hand, and the two boys resume wrestling on the ground. The fathers come in next, and break up the fight. Duke says he’s going to call the cops, but Rusty’s father manages to talk him out of it. The deal of horse for land is still on, and everyone heads home happy.
Now it’s time for the National Rodeo Competition!
Priscilla has fun doing fair type stuff, and she’s sitting at her camper late at night when Savannah comes up to her. Apparently, Rusty was the source of her evil, and now that he’s been sent to military school, she’s a perfectly normal, well adjusted person. She congratulates Priscilla on being better than her, and then skips off, her part in the movie now complete.
Priscilla does her run, and wins the competition with a time of 12.928 seconds. She is the champion!
The movie is finally, mercifully, coming to an end, with everything being wrapped up. Priscilla’s mother isn’t so horrible, everyone is friends now, and then, Sage, the 18 year old leaving to go to vet school, and Priscilla, who is 14, kiss. Whaaaaat.
Even more confusing:
“I totally agree with you. As one of the writers on the original script I can tell you our story was about the relationship between the father and the daughter. There was no budding romance. Only a friendship.”
It was a kiss of friendship. That’s what good friends do, they tongue kiss each other.
What I really want to know… does she continue hunjump when she returns to New England?! Or does she do rodeo there?