If you’re looking for a fun family-friendly (PG-13, though) adventure film this spring, look no further than Hidalgo. Based on the “true story” about an American (Viggo Mortensen) and his horse who travel to Arabia in the late 1800’s to compete in a grueling endurance race, the film is more than just a “here’s what supposedly happened” tome. Rather, there are a few sub-plots and sub-adventures scattered throughout, resulting in a rather full film that runs about two hours long.
We have the back story set-up – the slaughter at Wounded Knee that creates inner demons for our hero. We have him becoming an alcoholic. Then we have him taking on the Arabian challenge. That leads to a lot of “infidel” moments, as cultures clash. We have the grand Sheik (Omar Sharif, of course), and his beautiful daughter. Which means we have a romantic thread that is never romantic. The race begins, so there’s competition there. But then the daughter is kidnapped, so we have that whole rescue sequence. Etc., etc. It felt longer than it was, but it was never boring.
Directed by Joe Johnston (October Sky), the film has a wonderful look to it, rather solid acting (although the characters aren’t as 3-dimensional as I would haev liked), and a rather servicible (but not stand-out) score by James Newton Howard. Overall, I’d recommend the film. It might not be perfect, but it’s a fun ride.