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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

The Saddle Club: The First Adventure (review)

This bit of tween fluff is utterly inoffensive and completely harmless — but it’s also simplistic, predictable, and thoroughly unchallenging. Half extremely mild adventure and half schoolkid soap opera, the earnest plotline follows the new girl at a riding school as she tries to find her place in the society of “horse geeks” and snobby rich kids. Minor commotions abound — crushes on handsome young instructors, of course, but also bolting horses, bucking horses, girls lost in the woods… with horses, and horse jokes so lame even the young cast can barely fake their laughter. It all culminates in the big overnight trail ride/camping trip, during which everything will come to a head: Will manipulative Veronica get her comeuppance? Will Lisa’s mom stop calling every five minutes and learn to let go? These and other questions will be resolved — you already know the answers. Confidence will be built, friendships will be cemented, horses will be nuzzled. Based on Bonnie Bryant’s wildly popular book series, this one is strictly for giggly, horse-crazy 12-year-old girls. Need another equine fix? Check out the featurette on competing in horse shows.

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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