I mentioned the other day that a new horse movie has been released, the sequel to a movie I posted about many years ago. Well, as one of the benefits of being “media” (yes, that’s me), I got a screener of it. Next time, start a horse blog, review horse movies, hope for a sequel to one of them, and you too might be able to review horse movies a couple of days before they are available to the general public. Play the long game, my friends.
Although honestly I’m shocked they trusted me to review this one. Did they see the other horse movie reviews I’d done? They must have known what they were getting into.
I am going to change this a little bit, as they did trust me with their movie that literally has not come out yet. I usually tell the entire story of the movie, but I’m not going to reveal every single plot point or tell the whole story this time. You’ll have to watch the movie for that. Instead, I’ll just go over some highlights.
I present to you now, the magnificence that is Horse Camp: A Love Tail.
As the opening credits roll, it shows they’ve taken up vaulting, and also copywrite-free modern YouTube music, the type that is added to every young and hip video. But it turns out the music was specifically for a YouTube video, so that’s actually a pretty authentic touch. In the background of the YouTube video, I can see the strange arena paths are still there, though.
The YouTube video was apparently meant to boost their publicity, and it worked, so they are back in business. Unclear where they went, but maybe this is meant to take place after COVID shut down human life. If so, that’s very on the nose of them.
Vaulting is not shown again after the YouTube video. False advertising!!
In fact, a lot of these people have been in multiple horse movies… Okay, I want to know what is the secret of acting in horse movies, since you all have now been cast multiple times. I had no idea there was a sub-section of acting that is exclusively being in horse movies. How do I join this group?? Do I need to learn to vault?? Or do I just need to live in Michigan? (They all seem to take place there.)
But anyway, another repeat cast member and repeat horse actress is Lisa. She’s moved on from breaking her arm and only having one friend, and is now head counselor. Looks like she’s taking her beauty regiment more seriously as well, and has added a cute braid.
The movie starts out with the camp counselors, Lisa and Stacy, discussing Stacy’s recent trip to Africa. She did it for the ‘gram. It’s a little bit of social commentary that cracked me up. Well done.
There’s actually a lot of the movie like this. While it’s clearly a kid’s movie, there’s little bits in there that adults are going to find funny on another level. Good job on the writing.
A new-ish camper comes in, being dropped off by her dad. This mirrors the first movie, where Kathy was dropped off, right down to the disapproving dad. In this film, her dad seems convinced she’s going to have a bad time and not have friends, but that doesn’t dissuade her. Unlike the last movie, her dad actually says bye to her. Though, he does drop her off at the end of the driveway. I know you could have dropped her off in camp, I saw it in the last movie! I can only imagine it’s a more subtle way to show his disapproval.
There’s a few different personal conflicts going on – There’s something between Lisa and Stacy, the new-ish camper and an older camper, and also Stacy and the woman here to take her job as head riding instructor, Bonnie. She says she’s not, but she confronts Stacy in public, and is overly nasty to her. Actions speak louder than works, lady!
Stacy complains to the guy in charge, and he justifies her demotion and not telling her in advance by saying Bonnie is a really good horsewoman and everyone will learn a lot from her. Then he shows her a video of her barrel racing. I guess that settles it. Definitely the greatest horsewoman. (I’m not really a fan of barrel racing, but to each their own. This is a western camp, I will keep my english-biased comments to myself.)
With all those different beefs going on, there’s a lot of different story lines to keep up with. Unsurprisingly and in accordance with previous movies, I don’t remember half their names. But Lisa is a standout character, as I both remembered her name, and she’s pretty charming. She is essentially in charge of running the camp, and she’s taking it very seriously, and trying to run everything efficiently. She changed a few rules, including allowing cell phones! Teenage girls are thrilled.
Speaking of Lisa trying to run the camp efficiently, it spurred one of the funnest part of the movie. I literally laughed out loud.
Lisa comes up to the cafeteria lady: “Hi Gwen, can we talk?”
Gwen: “Who are you?”
Lisa: “Lisa… you’ve known me for like ten years.”
Gwen: “Don’t tell me what I know!”
Man, Lisa is just the best.
Lisa then gets another frustration when Miss Jessica, the previous head counselor returns. Lisa had a lot of respect for Miss Jessica, shown through vaguely annoying flashbacks, but when she actually shows up and tries to take over – well, that’s just not cool. Enter the Lisa and Jessica beef, although since Jessica is so overly happy, it is the most cheerful disagreement ever.
The main story line is Bonnie and the farm handyman’s little romance. “Al,” from Home Improvement, has a crush on Bonnie, but is too shy to interact normally. I get it, human interaction is hard. So the teenage girls decide to play matchmaker.
At one point in the movie, the girls are standing around singing the camp songs, and someone mentions the song Titanic, the very same song I mentioned in my original interview… and they hate it. Because everyone drowns. LOL. Did they read my review? That’s seems to be literally the point of the whole scene, so I’m kind of wondering…
There’s also a few other things they seem to have changed from the first movie, so it seems suspicious… But hey, I’m all for people taking feedback as positive, so that’s great! (If that’s the case. I have no idea, could just be coincidental…)
Stacy has come to a truce with her replacement, and is now getting riding lessons from her. This includes getting such commands as, “Your horse wants to be on the left lead, don’t fight it.” (okay, fair, she’s going left.) “You and your horse will be one.” “When his legs touch down, your legs touch down.” Maybe she spent a lot of time reading Sally Swift’s Centered Riding book.
Later on, Stacy is instructed to ride at night. Because she needs to trust her horse. She’s relying too much on her human senses. She needs to be one with the horse. Become the horse. Become A horse. Let the campers ride her. (I made up that last bit.)
There’s a lot going on in the movie, with all the different personal conflicts. Because there’s so much, there’s really not much time spent on any one conflict. Each story arch is fairly short, and everything is sorted out in the end.
I am glad they did away with camp princess. That was definitely for the best.
Oddly missing is a story arch involving a horse. The closest is the one girl who wants to be the best rider, but in the three or four minutes she’s shown riding, nothing is really said about the horse. There’s no conflict with any horse. The horses weren’t meant to be characters this time, they were just the setting of the film. If horse camp was switched out for tennis camp, the plot could have been exactly the same.
There are horses in nearly every scene, though. They just don’t get a lot of focus.
It really is a cute movie. There isn’t a whole lot to nit-pick or find absurd (possibly because more time is spent on humans than horses). It’s a believable story, with believable characters, and of course, horses. There’s no explosions or riders getting run down with cars though, so is it really a horse movie?
I think whoever came up with the dialogue did well. It actually did make me genuinely laugh a few times. When my daughter is older, I will definitely show her this movie, and I think she’d enjoy it.
At the end, we can see the people who actually run Black River Ranch. It is a real summer camp. Unclear if camp stay comes with full dose of interpersonal drama, office romance, or mean teenage girls who realize the errors of their ways.
Horse Camp: A Love Tail will be available on May 19 on iTunes, Vudu, Google Play, Xbox, Amazon, and FandangoNow.