DreamWorks's new animated movie, SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON,
features Tobey Maguire as the voice of the mustang named Spirit and
Glenn Close and James Garner as the voices of Spirit's parents.
Just kidding, although I wish I weren't.
Trying to preclude a Mr. Ed type of silliness, DreamWorks carefully
avoided letting the horses talk. (Spirit does, however, manage to
have human intelligence and sometimes superhuman strength.) While
I admire the studio's dedication to their principles, the results
are less than impressive and sometimes downright boring. John Fusco's
thin script is certainly no SHREK. The minimal plot, which never
manages to get in gear, relies on traditional Western themes like
the wild horse who almost can't be tamed. If you like seeing guys
being thrown from horses, you'll have plenty of opportunities to laugh
at their pratfalls. Since the movie plays like a Saturday morning
cartoon, except much slower and three times longer, you can expect
some significant amount of fidgeting among the smallest members of the audience.
Narrated by Matt Damon, who tells the story from Spirit's perspective,
the movie concerns a wild mustang named Spirit who is drafted against
his will by the army. James Cromwell voices a colonel who "tames"
Spirit, and Daniel Studi voices Little Creek, the Native American
who steals Spirit from the army. Both the colonel and Little Creek
use Spirit for basic transportation, but the story takes great pains
to point out how Little Creek treats him more humanely.
Watching traditionally animated movies like SPIRIT, one begins to
think about what people must have thought of silent movies after talkies
came out. Once you've seen computer generated animation, hand drawn
movies pale in comparison just as silent films pale in comparison,
to talkies. Even so, if SPIRIT had had a script as bright as SHREK's
or THE LION KING's, the limitations of the hand drawings would have been less noticeable.
Let me boldly state the obvious, even if most people are reluctant
to admit it. Please bring back the talking animals and please give
the animators computers to produce their drawings.
SPIRIT: STALLION OF THE CIMARRON runs a long 1:22. It is rated G
and would be acceptable for kids of all ages.
My son Jeffrey, age 13, gave it **. He said that it had good music
and some nice scenes like the train explosion, but he complained that
there wasn't much of a plot. Having a completely different opinion,
my wife adored the film and cried at the end.
Copyright © 2002 Steve Rhodes