By Paul Hall
Wild horses. They have been the subject of movies, music, artwork and literature for years. The magic, the beauty and the majesty of the little-known beasts running on the open frontier has been alluring for a number of artists in a variety of mediums.
The new film Spirit Untamed, in theaters now, focuses on a beautiful mustang and the young girl who forms a special bond with the animal.
Lucky Prescott (voice of Isabela Merced) has moved to a small frontier town with her Aunt Cora (Julianne Moore) for the summer. The two have been living in the city since a tragic accident early in Lucky’s young life. But now it’s time to reacquaint the young girl with her dad (Jake Gyllenhaal) and new friends and animals, including one mustang others have tried to train with no success.
This new wild horse is about to provide a summer full of challenges for Lucky. No one has been able to tame the horse named Spirit, including the horse wranglers who travel from town to town working as hands on ranches. As she attempts to gain Spirit’s trust, she’ll find herself in the middle of horse thieves (those wranglers aren’t simply ranch hands) and adventure around every cliff. Along with her friends Pru (Marsai Martin) and Abigail (Mckenna Grace), Lucky shows she is up for anything and will face challenges she could not have imagined.
Spirit Untamed is a simple film in the plot department. Young viewers will be entertained by the horses, music and the beauty of the frontier. A brisk 87 minutes is the right length to entertain without boring the youth market that this effort is clearly geared toward.
Despite being aimed directly at the 12-and-under age group, parents will enjoy the positive messaging throughout and the music that is engaging and fun. In fact, despite being much older than the target demographic, I found myself lightly bopping to the fun and frivolity that filled the space between the action-packed danger that surrounded the three young girls at the center of the story.
And yes, as a father to a daughter, I’m always attracted to daddy/daughter movies — of which Spirit Untamed is just another example — that show the connection between the two.
Although much of the film feels like it is a simple iteration of a tried-and-true format, there is much to like about the format that gives viewers the warm fuzzies, and Spirit Untamed does.
Paul’s Grade: C+
Voices of Isabela Merced, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marsai Martin, Mckenna Grace, Julianne Moore, Walton Goggins, Eiza González, Andre Braugher
Directors: Elaine Bogan, Ennio Torresan