Clichés are usually clichés because they're true, and formulas are generally formulas because they work. Dreamer, the new equestrian movie from DreamWorks, is loaded with enough clichés and formulas to choke a horse. But truly, it works. Kids who haven't seen many other horse movies will find the story thrilling; adults will likely find it engaging in a nostalgic sort of way.

Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) and his daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) are trying to get their horse ready for the Breeders' Cup

Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) and his daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) are trying to get their horse ready for the Breeders' Cup

Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) has the only horse farm in Kentucky that is devoid of even a single horse. Hard times have forced him to sell off the property, piece by piece, and all he has left is the land his house and ramshackle barn stand on. With no animals of his own, Ben is forced to use his gift for horse training to produce winning racers for Nasty Rich Guys (including a petulant prince obsessed with finding horses to beat his brother's stallion). The whole state of affairs has Ben distracted and more than a little grumpy. His long-suffering wife Lily (Elizabeth Shue) seems willing to roll with the punches (and take extra shifts at the local diner to help make ends meet), but Ben's young daughter Cale (Dakota Fanning) is a bundle of worry and longing. She wants a horse on the Crane Farm almost as desperately as she wants a relationship with her dad.

Estranged family relationships come naturally to Ben, who is barely speaking to his own father (Kris Kristofferson), even though they live side-by-side on the same bit of remaining Crane property. Both men have the horse business in their blood, both have been burned by it, and neither one is willing to stop blaming and avoiding the other. The only common ground they can admit to is their love for Cale.

Lily (Elisabeth Shue) and Ben see new hope for their family when they work together to save an injured racehorse

Lily (Elisabeth Shue) and Ben see new hope for their family when they work together to save an injured racehorse

The family's fortunes begin to change the morning Cale insists that her father take ...

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Our Rating
2½ Stars - Fair
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Directed By
John Gatins
Run Time
1 hour 46 minutes
Cast
Kurt Russell, Dakota Fanning, Kris Kristofferson, Elisabeth Shue
Theatre Release
October 21, 2005
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