Running Free

"Weak"

Running Free Review


Put Mr. Ed and Francis the talking mule in a room together and they still wouldn't yap as much as Lucky, the equine orphan hero of the overly-lengthy, overly-loquacious children's movie "Running Free."

Lucky is a beautiful brown horse born on a steamer taking beasts of burden to South Africa in 1914 for thankless work at a mining colony (insert slavery allusions here). He doesn't actually speak, it's not that kind of kid's movie. But he does incessantly narrate (with the voice of Lukas Haas) this utterly pedestrian parable about a foundling foal who befriends and similarly orphaned 10-year-old stable boy (Chase Moore) and grows up facing adversity, rivalry and World War I.

Pandering, obvious and a fidget-inspiring 123 minutes long, the movie's storyline is so basic that just about anyone who has seen a live-action Disney movie from the 1960s could have written a treatment for this script in an afternoon.

You got your burly, heartless mine boss (barrel-chested Belgian Jan Decleir) and his bratty, pugsy young son (an 8-year-old dandy with a riding crop) as antagonists for the boy. You got Caesar, the silvery black, purebred stallion with a special loathing for the ragamuffin Lucky -- and of course, Caesar's daughter, who loves the ratty brown runt.

You got your running away from home sequence with both horse and boy. After the war encroaches and the human population flees (taking the boy with them), you got Lucky striking out on his own in the parched African outback. Leopard, gibbons and bushmen, oh my!

And of course, you got your inevitable showdown when a grown and virile Lucky returns to the abandoned mining outpost to challenge mean ol' Caesar and lead the town's helpless horses to the meadow and lake oasis he's discovered in the nearby mountains.

The movie's best assets are its cogent, tribal-drum incidental music and its gorgeous cinematography (by Dan Laustsen, "Mimic"), full of sand-swept panoramas and slow-mo shots of flowing manes. Russian director Sergei Bodrov, who helmed 1996's Foreign Oscar nom "Prisoner of the Mountains," puts so much passion into "Running Free" that I almost feel guilty for dismissing it so roundly.

But for all its earnest effort and cinematic creativity, the core of this story is hackneyed and tedious. The only spark of freshness come from the lip service the picture pays to cultural diversity by having Lucky and his boy befriended by pretty, tribal bush girl when they run away.

Trimmed by a good 30 minutes and emancipated from its intrusive, non-stop narration, "Running Free" might have been an uncommonly heartening children's matinee. As is, however, all but horse-crazy little girls will likely be crawling the walls with boredom after the first couple reels.



Running Free

Facts and Figures

Run time: 81 mins

In Theaters: Friday 2nd June 2000

Distributed by: Columbia Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 27%
Fresh: 8 Rotten: 22

IMDB: 5.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

Manchester by the Sea Movie Review

This may not be the cheeriest movie of the season, but it's so skilfully written,...

Live By Night Movie Review

Live By Night Movie Review

Ben Affleck launched his directing career 10 years ago with his film of Dennis Lehane's...

La La Land Movie Review

La La Land Movie Review

After storming awards season with Whiplash two years ago, writer-director Damien Chazelle returns with something...

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Assassin's Creed Movie Review

Hopes were high that this film might finally crack the curse of movies based on...

Silence Movie Review

Silence Movie Review

Faith is a topic Martin Scorsese can't quite shake, courting controversy with complex films like...

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A Monster Calls Movie Review

A difficult movie to market, this isn't actually the BFG-style fantasy adventure it looks like....

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Monster Trucks Movie Review

Word has it that a 4-year-old came up with the idea for this unapologetically silly...

Advertisement
Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Collateral Beauty Movie Review

Dramas exploring the nature of death and the true meaning of life are always in...

Paterson Movie Review

Paterson Movie Review

Unpredictable filmmaker Jim Jarmusch ricochets from his artful vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive into...

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

I, Daniel Blake Movie Review

At 80 years old, British filmmaker Ken Loach won his second Cannes Film Festival with...

Why Him? Movie Review

Why Him? Movie Review

Writer-director John Hamburg continues to recycle the formula that made his first hit Meet the...

Passengers Movie Review

Passengers Movie Review

Anchored by the almost ridiculously engaging Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, this sci-fi movie travels...

Neruda Movie Review

Neruda Movie Review

Clever Chilean director Pablo Larrain (who also directed Natalie Portman's Jackie) takes on the Nobel-winning...

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

The Eagle Huntress Movie Review

Narrated by Daisy Ridley (The Force Awakens), this documentary is one of the most gripping...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.