Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What's on Netflix?: RODEO GIRL

Welcome to another installment of WHAT'S ON NETFLIX?, where we pick out a film currently playing on Netflix and review it for the fans. This week's selection is the family movie...RODEO GIRL.

Howdy fellow film freaks, Robert here, and I know what girls like. That's right: horses, and I have found the movie that has more equine goodness per foot of film than any other motion picture in the entire Netflix library, I'm assuming. Rodeo Girl is the 100% family-friendly story of Priscilla (Sophie Bolen), who has grown up among the wealthy set of New England, attending finishing school and training as a competitive show jumper with her horse, Lucky Lass. Her training isn't coming along as much as everyone involved has hoped, though, and she can never do better in competition than third place because she doesn't "believe in herself."

With that assurance that this picture is going to distinguish itself from the rest of the family movie crowd not one little bit firmly in place, the film hustles us through the rest of the introductory particulars. Priscilla's mom is getting married to a man named Charles, and they will be celebrating their engagment with a four-month world cruise(!). Priscilla herself, meanwhile, will be going to live with her biological father in Michigan, which means she'll have to give up her horseriding classes for the summer. Priscilla doesn't take this news well, and is only somewhat placated by the fact that her horse will be travelling to the midwest with her.

When next we see our plucky heroine, her plane is landing in the Great Lake State to the obnoxious strains of a nondescript pop country song. At this point we are all of seven minutes into the movie; clearly there's no time to waste getting down to a plot you can probably already guess at.

Priscilla meets her father, Duke, played by a very weathered-looking Kevin Sorbo (he of Hercules fame), and takes every opportunity to make it known that she is not pleased with being in Michigan, her father's cooking, or the whole miserable affair. She continues being too cool for a Midwestern school until Duke takes her to a rodeo, where she immediately falls in love with the barrel racing event. Priscilla decides she wants to compete in the barrel race at the next rodeo, and with the help of the typically handsome farmhand Sage, she and Lucky Lass begin training to do just that.

And so begins our story proper. Priscilla and her faithful steed dedicate themselves to training in barrel racing, learn to believe in themselves, and by the end of the movie have taken the top prize for barrel racing at the generically-named "National Youth Rodeo". Because training montages do not a feature film make, along the way there will be plenty of the requisite family movie false drama. Papa Hercules doesn't want his daughter competing in "no darn rodeo", until he does; Priscilla has to put up with mean local kids who never amount to much of a real threat; and the most predictable of all: "Oh no! Something's wrong with Lucky Lass!" Spoilers: the horse gets better. There's even a couple of standard cowboy movie tropes thrown in for good measure: a bit with a tornado, and a rival rancher who wants Papa Hercules' land. Again, neither of these have a great deal to do with the main story, except to serve as a distraction from it and pad the movie for time.

The problem with that main story is that it's patently impossible. With no evidence to the contrary, we have to assume that Priscilla and Lucky Lass's entire competitive experience consists of show jumping. Barrel racing is such a different competitive discipline that it uses a completely different saddle configuration, which the film acknowledges. Credit where it's due. However, the film also makes it clear that Priscilla is only staying on her father's ranch for four to five months, and at the end of that time she and her horse are not only competitive in their new discipline, but the best in the nation for their age group. This does. Not. Happen. Even becoming competitive in a new discipline in so short a time is difficult for a rider and, I'm told, nearly impossible for the horse. To become a champion in that same discipline in that same span of time is a feat not even Vanellope von Schweetz could pull off.

If this movie were animated, I might not have such a problem with it. Cartoons live beyond the bounds of credulity as a matter of course. But because it isn't, this story strikes me as cynical. Yes, it's a movie and movies embellish their stories. Of course taking those stories at face value is foolish. But they can still be inspiring, and nothing inspires like a good underdog story. The problem here is that our underdog starts from too far down, and improves too quickly. Imagine if Rocky Balboa was a marathon runner who started boxing on a whim, then two hours of story time later is going the distance against Apollo Creed. Anyone with even a slight grip on reality would stalk off in disgust. Hard work breeds success, but not overnight success. Anyone wanting to inspire their kids to believe in themselves and follow their dreams should seek motivation elsewhere.

Rodeo Girl is rated PG for thematic material and some bad behavior.

Robert's Score: 1/10

Make sure to check us out and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all of our reviews, news, trailers, and much, much more!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment