Whenever you have a film based around an animal you have to tread very carefully. Odds are that things are about to get real dicey real fast. Unfortunately this film was unable to avoid that as Flicka is put through the ringer and there are animal deaths here. That’s a quick way to put yourself in a losing position and the film never quite recovered.
The movie follows a kid named Ken who really wants a horse of his own. To that end he has basically stopped studying and is flunking every test at school. Ken is forgetting his chores and doesn’t even know how to look over the horses properly so Nell suggests that Rob get Ken his horse. Rob is pretty dubious since he points out that Ken should be proving himself worthy instead of getting the prize at the beginning. Still, they allow Ken to have his own horse which he names Flicka. The problem is that Flicka is quite wild and not like most horses. Can he really be tamed?
So the premise itself could be decent enough I suppose except for the fact that right off the bat Ken isn’t a good main character. He’s rather whiny the whole time and way too young to have a horse of his own. Near the beginning of the film he disobeys his father and runs out to the field where the horses are at. Naturally he trips and scares them which nearly costs the lives of every horse on the farm.
It’s not a great first impression and Ken never gets better after that. He’s rather rude to his sister the whole time as well with him constantly telling her to get out of the way with the horses and that she’ll never ride one since she’s a girl. She does manage to take him down for the count early on though when she forces him to confess to his father about where he found a saddle.
Ken’s not the most honest fellow out there that’s for sure. As for the parents, I wouldn’t say I was a big fan of either of them. Nell’s decision to get Ken a horse just felt like it was ill timed. He wasn’t ready for a horse as he clearly demonstrated with his early actions. Meanwhile Rob is quite open about shooting horses and such so he was out right from the start. It’s crazy so look at these times and how rough they were on the animals. It made for a very unlikable main cast.
Meanwhile Flicka is a nice enough horse. She’s quite wild but at the same time horses were meant to be free so you can’t blame her. You only have the cage to be blamed and the main characters for not working things out peacefully. Her mother had a rough time of things since even though they knew she was vicious, they still tried taking her away on the main road were an accident occurs.
You can expect horses to die out here that’s for sure and it puts a pretty big damper on the film as a whole. I wouldn’t even call this an uplifting film because of how sad it is for the horses. Aside from the parent dying which is already a full origin story for most characters, Flicka then gets injured by the barbed wire and has some rather serious cuts. Flicka really can’t catch a break at all.
My Friend Flicka is effectively a slice of life story about Ken finally proving himself and getting along with Flicka. The issue here is that this only works as a happy story if you either like Ken and the other characters or if you don’t find the horse scenes to be too sad. If both of those areas don’t go through as intended, then you’re really sunk and that’s what happened to the film.
On the plus side, it is fairly short so I wouldn’t say it drags on or anything like that. It definitely could have still trimmed some scenes but that’s not really addressing the core issues. You either needed some new plot element to keep things interesting or maybe even switched out the main character. After all, what positive things could you really say about the movie at the moment?
I suppose the writing isn’t bad. The characters may not be likable but I wouldn’t say that it reflects on the writing as a whole. None of them just clicked with me and this isn’t exactly the kind of film where you can expect a lot of snappy dialogue or anything like that. It’s more by the books from start to finish. I suppose as a positive or at least a back handed complement, I wouldn’t say it’s a boring film. It’s low key but should keep your interest well enough I guess. It just doesn’t have any weight to it.
Overall there are a lot of ways you could fix this film to make it more enjoyable but unfortunately the film didn’t take any of those avenues. It could have removed the horse violence or made the main character someone more likable. Either one of those changes would have done wonders for the movie. Still, I don’t expect a film with the horse as a main character will ever fare well. The deck is just stacked against them and by a large margin I should add. Even the ole whipping the horse to make it go faster always makes me wince. If you want to do a film about a horse and try to succeed then you should probably make it a robotic horse. That’s the only way I can see this working out. Ultimately the moral of this story is that Ken was not ready for his own horse.