Spirit Untamed Parent Guide
It's too easy to mix up the plot for this film with the premise of the associated TV drama. At least these visuals are better.
Parent Movie Review
Even though her nickname is Lucky, Fortuna Prescott (voiced by Isabela Merced) has more of a knack for getting into trouble than getting out of it. When her antics become too unmanageable for her dignified Grandfather, her Aunt Cora (voice of Julianne Moore) arranges to get the pre-teen out of his stuffy mansion for the summer. Boarding a train, the pair heads west to visit with Lucky’s father Jim Prescott (voice of Jake Gyllenhaal). Neither of them has seen Jim for ten years—or since Lucky’s mother died.
Amazingly, Lucky makes the switch between city and country fairly easily. That is thanks in part to the friendly folk in the town of Miradero, especially Pru Granger (voice of Marsai Martin) and Abigail Stone (voice of McKenna Grace), a couple of girls her own age. She also meets some former friends of her mom and discovers the woman was an amazing horsewoman. But the biggest attraction of this frontier world is Lucky’s encounter with a wild mustang. The idea of spending time with the stallion more than makes up for the strained feelings she and her Dad are being forced to face.
Smitten at first sight, Lucky names the dun-colored animal Spirit. And as she tries to make friends, she learns she has a natural ability with the horse. However, Spirit is presently in the care of a man named Hendricks (Walton Goggins). He and his motley buddies are using cruel tactics to try to break the mustang. Unwilling to stand by and watch the abuse, the plucky Lucky determines to help her special friend break free.
This animation is based on Spirit: Stallion of The Cimarron, which released to theaters almost twenty years ago (2002). Between then and now, the movie also inspired a TV series called Spirit Riding Free. Fans of that franchise might think I have mistaken this film’s plot with the premise of the episodic drama – because they are that similar. As near as I can tell, the screenplay is sort of an abridged version of the almost eight-season long television show. But the movie has far more impressive visuals.
Along with a message about treating animals with dignity and leaving wild horses alone, the script preaches fearlessness, bravery, courage and never giving up. And it is all wrapped up in a bright shiny girl power package. There are some parallels between winning a horse’s trust and building family relationships too.
While I certainly wouldn’t feel comfortable letting my child run off unattended with her friends, cross dangerous terrain, ride an unbroken horse bareback, jump on and off moving locomotives and take on a gang of thugs, it all seems well and good within the context of this story. Perhaps the animation and slapstick violence keep the risky behavior from feeling too dangerous or too real? At the very least, that is the question parents will need to answer when deciding whether or not to let their equine-enamored children saddle-up for this untamed ride.Directed by Elaine Bogan, Ennio Torresan. Starring Isabela Merced, Jake Gyllenhaal, Marsai Martin, Julianne Moore. Running time: 87 minutes. Theatrical release June 4, 2021. Updated June 3, 2021
Watch the trailer for Spirit Untamed
Rating & Content Info
Why is Spirit Untamed rated PG? Spirit Untamed is rated PG by the MPAA for some adventure action
Violence: A child character (somewhere between 10 and 12 years old) disobeys authority and behaves recklessly throughout the film, hanging out of windows, climbing on the outside of a train, getting close to a wild animal, riding an unbroken horse, jumping chasms (sometimes unsuccessfully), scaling cliffs and running away from home. Some of these depictions are adventurous or humorous, while others may be frightening for children. A fatal horse-riding accident is implied. A humorous depiction shows a child being tied up. Property damage occurs. A gang of men mention participating in illegal activities. These thugs also mistreat horses (lasso them with ropes, gouge them with spurs, deprive them of water and capture them), steal a train, threaten others and engage in physical fights. Violent confrontations are depicted in a slapstick style with characters being kicked and thrown (often from horses), arguing, fist-fighting, and being hit with objects. Mild explosions occur. Characters face the threat of drowning.
Sexual Content: A woman dances with a man and feels flattered by his attention. An agitated character waits to use a bathroom. Characters spit.
Profanity: None noted.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None noted.
Page last updated June 3, 2021
Spirit Untamed Parents' Guide
Lucky is determined to protect Spirit from harmful training tactics and to return to his herd. Are these feelings commendable? How about the actions she takes to achieve her goal? Would you describe her behavior as fearless, brave or courageous? How about risky? What would you do to help an animal in an abusive situation?
Did you know that a person – not a horse – makes the sounds of Spirit in the movie?
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Wild horses have inspired real people to protect them. Tracey Fern and Steven Salerno have written and illustrated Wild Horse Annie: Friend of the Mustangs to tell the story of Velma Bronn Johnston and her campaign for mustangs in Nevada.
Author and illustrator Georgia Graham pays tribute to the wild horses of British Columbia in her picture book, Where Wild Horses Run.
Paul Goble’s distinctive art illuminates The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, the story of a Native American girl who longs to run free with her horses.
If you can’t get enough of wild horses, jump into Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry and Wesley Dennis. This beloved Newberry Honor book has been read by generations of girls and launched several sequels.