ST. LOUIS — There are animated films made for kids and adults, and ones that are solely produced for the former. "Spirit Untamed' should endear itself to young boys and girls, but not their parents.
It's not like I got up after this rather breezy movie concluded and asked one of the employees for a refund of my time, but I won't be stopping in the middle of traffic to tell you this one needs to be seen immediately either. It's nothing special, and by that I mean the voice work, story, production value, and overall aesthetic could have been borrowed from forty other kids-only films.
A young, resourceful yet risk-taking woman named Lucky Prescott (Isabela Merced) connects with the wild horse that can't be tamed. She does this against her father's (Jake Gyllenhaal) wishes, even if he only wants what's best for her. Freshly relocated from the city to the farm, Lucky finds her newfound relationship with "Spirit" threatened by local horse traders. Do I have to tell you where this is going?
Co-directors Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan clearly aren't trying to break the mold here with their film, just give adults 90 minutes out of the heat and everyday exhaustion of tasks. The voice work doesn't call attention to itself, and I think that's a problem. When it comes to animated films, the actor has to give the part something else or just take the dialogue and purpose to another level. No one does that here. The animation doesn't exactly jump off the screen, with the pixels resembling a production from 10-15 years ago. It doesn't have to be stop-motion or three dimensional, but fresh-looking shouldn't be too hard to muster.
Between the original writer and the new group, there are four sets of hands on this material, which wasn't exactly original to begin with. It always pertains to a young boy or girl learning a tough lesson through a series of adventures with a big, fat moral hanging over their head in the end. The moral of "Spirit Untamed" is nothing special. It's fine. The movie isn't outright good or terribly bad. Sweet with a heavy portion of predictability, it moves and flows like the countless tales that have come before it.
Unlike "Cruella" or "Soul," "Spirit Untamed" is strictly for kids. Mom and dad, order a beer or glass of wine at the concession stand, and you'll be fine and a hero at the same time.