Friday, June 3, 2011

Double Dakota Feature: Charlotte's Web (2006) & Dreamer (2005)

I don't usually go in for talking animal movies, but like I've said before, I'll watch anything with Dakota Fanning in it. At least it's live action, and not (fully) animated - that's where I draw the line. And anyway, it's Charlotte's Web. I remember reading that story too many years ago in school. Not the best story I ever read for school (I recall A Day No Pigs Would Die being a little bit more...visceral), but it's a nice one. Too nice, maybe. It's a really sappy story. The pig was really cute, though (I can't believe I just said that), and Dakota was (of course) even cuter. Especially in the pretty yellow dress and red ribbons she wore at the fair.

"Ewww! You look like a giiirl!" *pow* "An' I still hit like one."

It's weird, this is a children's story, and you want to believe it's all fun and happy, but it's really a sad story, isn't it? I had this heavy feeling through it all, because I knew how it was going to end. After all, it's a pig's desperate attempt to avoid becoming breakfast. I even cried when (spoiler) died. I like the theme of looking past stereotypes to see the good in 'people', but honestly, I can't find the good in spiders. Charlotte is a wonderful human being, but in real life, spiders are creepy. But then, animals don't act like people in real life, so you can only take the comparison so far. I imagine this film would be a satisfactory supplement to the novel.

Part 2 of the "Dakota befriends animals" program features Dreamer: Inspired By A True Story. In it, Dakota plays the daughter of a racehorse trainer (played by Kurt Russell), who ultimately gets her chance to race a horse of her own, literally against all odds. It's a very touching story, and a bit more mature than Charlotte's Web. Kris Kristofferson plays Dakota's character's grandfather, and a surprisingly convincing father to Kurt Russell. The horse in the story, Sonador (Spanish for "Dreamer", 'Sonya' for short) is a sweetheart.

Dakota really shines in this role, as a little girl with the confidence to teach others the value of holding on to one's dreams. Of course, at the risk of spoiling the [fairly predictable] ending, things go impossibly well, which has the double effect of making it a highly inspirational story, but at the cost of making it less than relatable in real life. Still, if you like inspirational stories (and despite my cynicism, I enjoy watching things go right for people on occasion - especially if it's Dakota), this one'll probably be an exciting ride. And, to repeat myself (though I'll never get tired of saying this), it's worth watching for Dakota's performance alone. She's just so incredibly charismatic. I love her can-do attitude in this one.

"Are you gonna spend your life shovelin' horse squat for shakes?
Or are you gonna get back in the game?"

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