Review by Adam Donato
Heart of a Champion is the story of a young girl who dreams of owning a horse. This simple tale brings dreams and romance to the table for the family to enjoy. The lead of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl spin-off We Can Be Heroes, YaYa Gosselin, stars as a young girl struggling with her family relationships after a messy divorce, but distracts herself with her passion for horseback riding. With the help of her dad’s best friend, played by Starship Troopers lead Casper Van Dien, they rescue a horse and teach it to ride. Can she juggle her new hobby with her familial responsibilities?
Luckily, director Brad Keller has experience with horses, as he directed A Horse Tale back in 2015. Besides Van Dien and Gosselin, Heart of a Champion also stars a beautiful horse. Before getting critical about this feature, it must be acknowledged that the intended audience for this movie has very low expectations. As long as it’s sweet and there’s a lot of scenes with the horse, then little girls and their moms will be happy. This is the perfect movie for a passable Saturday afternoon flick for mothers to watch with their daughters. To the casual viewer, Heart of a Champion is a fine experience of a movie.
From a filmmaking perspective, Heart of a Champion is dog water. The story is obnoxiously by-the-numbers in every regard. You know exactly how this movie will go from the moment it starts. It’s not trying to challenge anybody, it’s just trying to have a feel-good time, which is fine. The dialogue is cringe throughout. All the characters are annoying. The lighting is regularly over-exposed. The editing is extremely awkward. The only redeemable thing about the editing is that this feature runs at just under 90 minutes. Every storyline attempted comes to completion in the most standard manner. There’s nothing of actual value or substance here whatsoever.
Remember Edward Furlong? The kid who played John Connor in Terminator 2 and the Nazi youth in American History X? He’s totally in this. In the divorce this family is going through, Furlong plays the irresponsible father in her life. That’s crazy! He’s still out there doing things, and he looks nothing like he used to. What a weird little aspect about the movie. Also, Van Dien’s truck has a Texas license plate that says “COW BOY”. They're really scraping the bottom of the barrel for this movie.
Do you like horses? Then Heart of a Champion is the movie for you, because it definitely has a horse in it. If that is enough for one to enjoy for 86 minutes, check this one out on demand this week. If one is not a horse girl, then this is not worth your time. It’s like if you asked an AI to make a script based on the words “horse girl" — an unnecessary and basic flick. Neigh.
Heart of a Champion hits theaters on February 17 and VOD on February 21.