Life is full of weird little coincidences, and one of the most recent is the fact that two animal movies produced in 1943, both starring the young Roddy McDowall, have been remade and released to American theatres in just the past few months. And both of the remakes have reduced their titles to just the animal's name. A few months back, Lassie Come Home, about the famous collie, became simply Lassie. And now, My Friend Flicka, about a wild untamed mustang, is simply Flicka.
The dog-and-pony act ends there, though. Whereas Lassie took place decades ago, in its original setting, Flicka has been moved up to the 21st century. And the boy that McDowall played so long ago—the lad who, as they used to say, became a man by taking responsibility for one of his father's horses and looking after it—has become a girl who is less interested in proving her maturity than in protecting the horse from the social and economic forces that would harm its wild spirit.
Katy McLaughlin, for that is the girl's name, is played by Alison Lohman, who was 25 when the film was shot but is quite convincing as a teenager, just as she was in White Oleander and Matchstick Men. (One is reminded of how Michael J. Fox played high schoolers like Marty McFly well into his late 20s.) Katy is failing at the private boarding school she attends, because she looks out the window and daydreams about horses when she ought to be writing exams. Times are tough for her family, back on the ranch in Wyoming, so when her father Rob (Tim McGraw) hears that Katy might have to repeat the year at school, he is more than a little upset.
And then the mustang comes into their lives. Katy's father, who regards wild horses such as these as "parasites" on his farm, captures ...1