Moondance Alexander (2007) Poster

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Poetic, Sweet and Inspiring
jayraskin127 November 2008
This is a naturalistic and realistic movie that shows contemporary young teenage girls as sensitive and strong human beings. There are very few films that do this. Over the last four years, "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" is about the only one that comes to mind.

Parents who want to watch a DVD with children 10-14, who are tired of Disney Punch and Judy, over-the-top, throw-in-the-kitchen-sink, satirical fantasies for kids, will appreciate the calm and gentle approach and atmosphere that this movie creates.

The acting is delightful. Lori Loughlin and Don Johnson shine, and Kay Panabaker glows as Moondance. The writing is believable, and the film moves quickly.

The movie provides smiles, not laughs. If you're looking for laughs, try a T.V. sit-com. If you're looking for warm and endearing, and a feel-good/feel great family film, here it is.
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A Pinto Named After Nixon's Dog
aimless-4626 November 2008
"Saddle Club" meets "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" and "Bratz", as the prettiest friendless teenage girl in cinema history goes up against her "Queen Bee" nemesis in a local equestrian competition. Throw in a little "Pollyanna" here for good measure as the friendless girl manages to inspire the adults in her town to lead better lives.

Kay Panabaker plays the friendless girl (Moondance Alexander), and Kay is so pretty she makes figure skater turned aspiring actress Sasha Cohen look rather plain by comparison. And Kay is a polished enough actress with enough effortless charm to almost make this film work. Unfortunately she is saddled (pun intended) with one of the worst written scripts you are likely to ever encounter.

The best scenes are those where Panabaker is alone on the screen and the worst are those involving her teenage rivals-the dialog given to these inexperienced cast members is almost surreal in its staggering lameness.

The film is at least one back-story too many as there just isn't time to adequately cover Moondance coping with her father's death, reconciling her mother's new romantic interest, getting flirty with the son of her mother's boyfriend, saving stable owner Donte (Don Johnson) from a wasted life of alcohol abuse, turning her horse Checkers into a competitive jumper, and giving Roscoe P. Coltraine (James Best) a few moments of mild comic relief.

"Moondance Alexander's" target audience of preteen girls and Sasha Cohen fans wasn't enough for it to get a widespread theatrical release but it is available as a direct-to-DVD product. There is nothing original or exciting here but it is a pleasant enough family film. And the dare to be different theme is handled quite nicely.

Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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Has it's problems but... I liked it
WakenPayne29 September 2013
Why did I want to see this movie? Your guess is as good as mine. I guess that I really want to review things and just watch any movie chosen out of a hypothetical hat just so I can review it regardless. Is this movie about horses worthwhile family entertainment? In my eyes it can be.

The plot is that Moondance Alexander (Kay Panabaker) is a 14 year old girl who has trouble fitting in and has to cope with the death of her father. She has a part time job delivering supplies to stables and on the way to her latest delivery she finds a horse who escaped from their stable and they form an instant connection. After the horse is returned she proposes a deal with the owner of the stable, Dante Longpre (Don Johnson), she will work for him over the summer break and she can ride the horse, who she named Checkers. Over time, Moondance (Who names their child Moondance?) bonds with the horse. After finding out Dante was a pretty good horse jumper (I hope that's a correct term!) in his day, she decides to enter Checkers in a contest for jumping horses.

So what is there to complain about with this movie? How about THE SOUNDTRACK! I mean every other complaint that will be brought up in this review was at least tolerable but the guy who did the music seemed to have the song selection be from EVERY SINGLE LIVE ACTION KIDS FILM OVER THE PAST 10 YEARS. 10 minutes in and it annoyed the crap out of me. It even broke the ice in what was intended to be the most emotional scene in the movie.

Another complaint I have with this movie is that Moondance should have been shown grieving over her father's death just a bit more. I know it's meant to be for kids but the scenes where this does happen are too few and far between in this movie.

Aside from that everything to complain about is minor. I mean yes - the movie is predictable, yes - the characters intended to annoy succeed beyond their wildest dreams, yes - the story and plot points are slightly contrived. I really don't see a major problem in them because once taken away, this movie can stand on it's own pretty well.

Aside from that, I'll go for the compliments. Kay Panabaker can act really really well. Everyone does a decent job (in some cases you have to consider the material they were given - for example the villains) but Panabaker was the stand out.

I also like the message of this movie. Basically the message is "be yourself and overcome your obstacles". I know what you're thinking "In your previous review you criticised something for having an unoriginal message, what makes this so different?" The answer is that in my opinion this actually gets the message across in a fresh way that isn't contrived.

So aside from those 2 I did enjoy the directing and the writing (although that does get a little weak around the end). They do a good job here getting a rather contrived story about inspiration and the odds being against the heroes but coming out on top while still keeping it fresh.

So would I recommend this movie as family entertainment? Yes. I am not in the target audience for this movie (I'm a 17 year old boy) and I found something in it that was complimentary. So if you want some family entertainment for your child (I know I shouldn't be stereotyping but preferably female) which you can also enjoy then pick up Moondance Alexander. For a person like me, call it a guilty pleasure.
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Fine cliché family movie
SnoopyStyle7 June 2014
It's the start of summer. Moondance Alexander (Kay Panabaker) is the school outcast whose yearbook nobody wants to sign. She talks to her father's grave. Her eccentric artist mother Gelsey (Lori Loughlin) doesn't really understand. Then she finds a horse by the side of the road and names him Checkers. The horse is returned to Tumbleweed Stables and the grumpy Dante Longpre (Don Johnson). The horse is actually named Tinkerbell. Moondance exchanges work for riding the horse. All the girls are mean but popular Josh might just like her especially when Josh's dad starts dating Moondance's mom. Moondance thinks Checkers might be a good jumper and enters her into the Bow Valley Classic against all the mean girls.

This is a super sweet unsurprising cliché-filled family movie. I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with that as long as it's done well. Don Johnson has the grumpy weary guy well in hand. Lori Loughlin could have been more flaky. At least she doesn't really fit the part. It's the super cute Kay Panabaker that makes this work. She's all hyper energy and willful joy. She is spunky enough to fill the whole movie with her energy. She is also a good enough actress to do the emotional moments too.
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Great little horse movie, unfortunately underrated
brightbrumby21 June 2017
I've got to say, this is one of my favorite horse movies out there. It shows the tale of a different and quirky girl meeting a different and quirky horse who just want to fit in a little more. It also shows that sometimes being different is the best way to fit in- something almost no other horse movie shows. The only things that I don't really like is that at first, Moondance clearly doesn't know much about horses but yet still knows how to ride and knows some of the terms (example: "forelock"). I also thought it was a bit of a cliché to make the very girls who bully her at school also her rivals in the horse world. But it's a beautiful movie, so it doesn't really matter. This cute little movie is unfortunately underrated and I can't figure out why. It shows that being different is okay and you can do your own thing and I love the way it shows the magical connection that there should be between a horse and rider. The fact that this movie is based on a true story is even more magical. It tugged at my heartstrings. All the actors also suited their characters very well and were great at playing them. I couldn't imagine this movie any other way. If you're looking for a horse movie that's something a bit different with a moral, look no further!
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Beautiful movie and story, weak script
clearthinkernow22 November 2015
Loved the look of the movie, beautiful shots, wonderful characters, actors seemed fine. I'm not much of a horse person, so with me that doesn't carry the movie. Movie was the right length, not too long. The script was just so poorly written, I'd find myself wincing at the dialog. Character names were strange also (Gelsey, Moondance?), as if the author was "putting on airs". The makeup on the young actress bothered me also. First, she's a child and second, she's working in a stable and riding a horse. Those aren't activities where someone would normally be so made up and certainly not a child. If you're looking for a family movie with an interesting story (based on a true story), maybe about second chances, then this would be a good pick.
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Nice movie
jimvandemoter-5023618 April 2019
I found this flick by accident while looking for something else. I saw the cast and decided it was worth a look. I'm not a horse person, and I like some sports movies, and I do like offbeat stories. While I normally like action sometimes I just want to relax and enjoy a good family movie. This would be a great flick for kids on a rainy afternoon, or if you just want to relax and enjoy a sweet story. It has it's flaws but they're not enough to turn me off. Worth a look.
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National Velcro
Buddy-512 August 2010
If you've already seen "Black Beauty," "National Velvet" or "My Friend Flicka," you might want to take a pass on "Moondance Alexander," a wan girl-and-her-horse saga that doesn't even have the energy or conviction to rise above its own clichés.

Moondance is a ninth-grade social outcast who finds meaning and purpose in life when she spends the summer taking care of and learning to ride a horse owned by a cantankerous but lovable Pygmalion played by Don Johnson (think of it as an equine version of "My Fair Lady," minus the songs and quality). The first credibility obstacle we have to overcome is accepting the spunky and attractive Moondance as a girl who can't find herself a single friend (well, the two-legged type anyway).

The paint-by-numbers screenplay comes replete with a miraculous horse healing, a bevy of Valley Girl elitists straight out of Central Casting, and a horse-jumping competition that has all the drama and suspense of a Tiddlywinks tournament in Oshkosh.

Ah well, at least the movie boasts, in the person of Kay Panabaker, a young actress with a great deal of charm and potential. And, besides, where else are you going to hear a line like, "Moondance, I want you to take Checkers over to the stables," if not in this film? Surely, that ought to count for something, don't you think?
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Simply Just Not Good
ssexccichica23 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Not only does this movie attempt to be the cliché "horse and rider as one" story, but it fails, and quite horribly. The storyline is very predictable, and at numerous times its just plain boring. Not only is the story bad, but the acting is just awful. The main character's acting ability lacks so much its so hard to watch. The enemies of the main character, moondance, are the cliché mean snobby riders, like always. Also, of course, the main character is missing a parent to make you feel sorry for her, but you don't at all. And, of course, moondance and her "pinto" horse (which is only a color breed, NOT a genetically/characteristically determined breed, which they make the main reason for disapproval of the horse) win in the end. Sadly, this film is just so unrealistic. You cannot learn to jump a .9 or so meter hunter course in 1 month, a horse does not recover from colic that fast, and you cannot be unable to buy a 200$ coat and afford a 600$ GPA. There are way too many problems with this movie. I'm sorry to say this, but as far as horse movies go, this is without doubt on the bottom of the list. The only semi good thing about this film is the setting, its quite nice. But in conclusion, don't waste your time. And if your a horse person, you'll be totally angered by this movie's lack of realistic horsemanship.
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orlandoblooms-140-4149272 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is ridiculous. 1 I have seen Pinto COLORED horses in the Hunter Ring. Not all hunters are Thoroughbreds. You need better trainers too! Heels were not down and they consistently hit the horses in their mouth with the bit by not releasing their hands over the fences. They didn't go into two point, were not moving with the horses' head at the canter and even locked up their arms when coming into the fence. The main character wasn't on the correct diagonal when trotting either. By the way there's no way someone is going to learn and show a 3ft hunter course in 1 mth without having any jumping experience. That's utter nonsense. Get better trainers the next time you wish to produce a horse movie like this so you can get the actors better equitation. Also rubber boots would not be allowed in a hunter ring either since they are not acceptable show boots. They're muck/field boots. She would not have won with those on since they get judged on appearance as well as equitation.
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Family movie, theme of "being different is OK."
TxMike16 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
As movies go this one lacks in several areas, especially dialog and acting, which is sometimes amateurish. But you can't find fault with the family story, revolving around a young teen girl who is different, including her first name "Moondance." Kay Panabaker is Moondance. Her dad died not long ago but she still had her artist mom Gelsey, played well by 40-something Lori Loughlin. By her own admission, Moondance has few, if any, friends because fellow students make fun of her name and the way she dresses. The movie starts on the last day of school as summer break begins.

She has a small job, using her bicycle to make small package deliveries in the rural area surrounding her home (filmed in the Canadian Rockies and surrounding areas). One day, riding along a dirt road, a Pinto horse appears in front of her, evidently jumping the fence. We later find out this is a habit of the Pinto, whom she names "Checkers", and this later comes in handy in a jumping competition.

As it turns out the horse is not lost, but is owned by Don Johnson as Dante, a man of gruff demeanor and few words. We later find out he had been a horse trainer but something happened and he had quit. Moondance doesn't want to be separated from Checkers, so she bargains to work free, starting at 6:30AM each day, cleaning stalls, etc and in return she gets to ride Checkers.

It is hard to figure why skater Sasha Cohen has a role, except it seems she has acting aspirations. Here she is Fiona Hughes, a nasty and self-centered girl who won the Junior jumping championship last year, and who takes every opportunity to try and put Moondance down. There is no subtlety to her acting.

Overall a good family film, with a good message, and no bad language, no sex, no violence. We need more movies with those characteristics.

SPOILERS: Dante agrees to help Moondance and Checkers get ready for the yearly jumping competition. But he warns her not to get her hopes up. But they do well, have a flawless ride, and end up co-champions with the mean Fiona. Proving that "different" can be very good under the right conditions.
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