Star Rating:

Spirit Untamed

Directors: Elaine Bogan, Ennio Torresan

Actors: Jake Gyllenhaal, Marsai Martin, Isabela Merced

Release Date: Friday 30th July 2021

Genre(s): Adventure, Animation, Family

Running time: 87 minutes

After her father (Jake Gyllenhaal) leaves his daughter Lucky Prescott (Isabela Merced) in the care of her aunt (Julianne Moore) for several years, she returns to her hometown and befriends a wild mustang named Spirit, who has been targeted by cowboys led by an unscrupulous wrangler (Walton Goggins).

Most likely the reason you're reading this is that you're looking for either the cinema times, the running length, or wanted to check who was in the voice cast that sounded vaguely familiar as you watched this with the small child in your care. If you're basing your decision to bring the small child in your care to see this, know that 'Spirit Untamed' is as safe, dependable, tamed and forthright as you'd expect a movie about horse girls to be.

What's a horse girl, you ask? Well, defines a "horse girl" as a no-nonsense young woman who wears her hair in a scrunchie, has no tolerance for bullshit, defines herself by her love of horses, and rejects anything or anyone that isn't interested in horses. In Irish parlance, they equate to something along the lines of an Aisling. Horse girls were a big thing on Twitter about two years ago when the Content Mines ran dry and needed to dig up obscure characterisations to get a couple hundred articles into the ether.

You'll note that we're about a third of the way into this review and we haven't once discussed 'Spirit Untamed' in any meaningful way. The reason for that is because the movie is, honestly, quite forgettable but it's incredibly well-meaning. The animation is clear and precise, the horses all have eyebrows for some reason, the voice cast has some big names but you can tell they all did a maximum of two takes per line reading, and it's over inside of 90 minutes. It's to the point, no messing around, and it gets the job done. That is the quintessence of horse girl energy, hence why we're talking about it so much.

The storyline has as much depth as a puddle of muddy water in a stable. Young girl arrives in rural town, sees wild horse, befriends and wins the respect of wild horse, meets friends who are also horse types, then goes on adventure with said friends to save wild horse from traveling cowboys while parent and other adults look on in aghast horror, only to ride in at the last moment to watch young children save the day. You can't fault the writers of 'Spirit Untamed' for their work, because every scene of this is moving things on and galloping towards the finish.

Unlike other animated children movies like those class traitors in 'Paw Patrol', 'Spirit Untamed' feels refreshingly safe and boring. It's about young girls being active in the outdoors, respecting nature and animals, having adventures together, and being resilient and capable in their own abilities. We should all be so fortunate to have that experience.