1943 / 89 minutes
All Ken wants is a colt of his own, and seeing as his dad raises horses, that doesn’t seem an unreasonable ambition. But all Ken’s father wants is for his son to start using his head, and he’s not sure when or if that’s ever going to happen. The boy’s fifth-grade report card is impressive in the worst possible way – Ken managed to get a zero in English. He daydreamed his way right through the hour-long test and never even got started.
So it’s against his better judgment that stern poppa does indeed give his underachieving son his choice of a colt. But dad is left shaking his head once again when his son picks Flicka, a colt from the most “loco” mare on the ranch – Ken has picked a colt that may not even be tameable! And shortly after getting picked, Flicka proves just as wild as the father feared, running straight into a barbed wire fence.
There is a silver lining – the injured colt needs attention, and Ken shows himself both willing and able. Might this daydreaming boy be on the way to becoming a young man?
Parents will want to know that one of the horses, a wild mare named Rocket (Flicka’s mom), dies suddenly midway through the film. I was surprised – I figured the horse was just stunned, and even reassured our kids it would recover. But nope. This was shot in World War II so I think the times may have resulted in kids then that were made of a little sterner stuff, so one horse getting killed might have been no big deal to them. But it might be a bit of something to some of our sensitive ten-and-under kids, who have grown up on children’s fare where the peril never results in anything permanent.
Rocket’s death makes Flicka’s own brush with death – at one point dad gives the order to put him down – much scarier than it otherwise would have been. Shucks, it seems like there’s no guarantees in this movie about who is going to make it to the end. But parents can reassure their kidlings that Flicka will indeed make it.
Language concerns are limited to a few “doggone it” and “gee whiz”s.
One modern-day reviewer celebrated this as a “great movie for kids with no… sex, drugs or cursing.” It is that.
But it is also an older film that doesn’t have the frenetic pacing of most of today’s kids’ stuff. That means it might test some children’s attention spans, but that could be a very good thing. I’d suggest it for 10 and over, but I’m not quite sure whether its hundreds of horses might make this a great one for horse-crazy girls, or whether the death of Rocket might mean they’d be the worst possible audience.
I’ll also note that in our family of five, three quite liked it, one fell asleep, and one was quite distraught over poor Rocket. So, if you’re looking for a sure-fire bet for family movie night, this might not be it.
But if you want something from a more decent time, this could fit the bill. It’s full of characters with character, whether that’s a stern but loving dad, a compassionate capable mom, respectful ranch hands, or even the son, a kid who isn’t measuring up but wants to.
Check out a brief clip below.