Spirit Untamed is a cute movie with endearing friendships and a really sweet message.
To describe Spirit Untamed as an extended Saturday morning cartoon would be, sort of, accurate. As someone who loved Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron but still an outsider to anything Spirit related, this new film appears to be a direct sequel to the 2002 film and a slight reimagining of Netflix’s Spirit Riding Free series. For the latter observation, my only point of reference is Netflix’s trailer for season one, which plays as a two-dimensional mirrored image of Spirit Untamed.
While I can’t comment on the resemblance any further, I can only report my enjoyment with Spirit Untamed. The film is the best representation of friendships between young girls since Frozen – I actually think Spirit Untamed does a better job with animation that’s much more vivid.
As the new kid in town, Lucky (voiced by Isabela Merced, of Dora and the Lost City of Gold) grows attached to a mystifying stallion who also appears on the fringe as she does. This attracts the attention of other local kids, Abigail (Mckenna Grace) and Pru (Marsal Martin), and allows an immediate lighthearted bond to naturally form between the three girls. It’s a wholesome connection, carried exceptionally well by the voice talents of Merced, Grace, and Martin.
But, Spirit Untamed extends beyond those friendships too, with a delicate story of Lucky rekindling a relationship with her recluse father Jim (voiced by Jake Gyllenhaal) – both are still mourning the loss of Mom who never recovered from a performance injury. Gyllenhaal matches the delicacy of the subject matter with sincere vocals, and Merced finds a unique range that keeps up with him. Mom’s death doesn’t feel exaggerated to manipulate the audience and, instead, the movie allows the voice actors to freely convey these emotions. Kids won’t be too distracted, and parents won’t have to explain too much.
Spirit Untamed isn’t without its ridiculous moments, even for a kids flick. The entertaining action sequences with “horse-nappers”, for instance, have a tendency to overstretch the film’s modesty. But, these inconsistencies won’t prevent families from having a great time with Spirit Untamed.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie