FLICKA (Michael Mayer). 95 minutes. Opens Friday (October 20). For venues and times, see Movies, page 98. Rating: NN Rating: NN
I have vaguely fond memories of 1943's My Friend Flicka, so I was surprised at how easily Michael Mayer's remake marred a simple story about a teenager's love for a horse. What should be a heart-tugging tale is instead poorly paced and filled with caricatures.
After nearly flunking out of private school, 16-year-old Katy (Alison Lohman) moves back to her parents' Wyoming ranch for the summer. While her father (a well-cast, playful Tim McGraw) wants her to go to college, Katy secretly begins to tame a wild mustang in an effort to prove she can run the family business.
While the film is stunningly shot, with southern California vistas standing in for America's heartland, the plot moves painfully slowly. The last third is especially difficult to watch for younger children, when the fate of the mustang is left hanging for 15 minutes too long.
The screenplay doesn't help matters; characters bluntly express their feelings without subtlety or depth. The enthusiastic cast try their best (including McGraw and a glowing Maria Bello as his wife), but Flicka is a squandered opportunity to reintroduce a children's classic.