If you were like us, you grew up glued to the TV screen every so often to catch the latest DCOM. You know they were awesome and the highlight of your life. You went to school afterwards unable to talk about anything else.
We decided to re-watch some of our favorites to see how they held up to our memories. First up - Horse Sense!
To begin our nostalgic journey through some of the Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) repertoire, we started with the 1999 movie, Horse Sense. It stars Joey and Andy Lawrence, two of the three Lawrence brothers who I remember being popular at the time. This movie came out after all three brothers starring in the sitcom Brotherly Love together.
We begin with Tommy (Andy Lawrence) departing his Montana home to visit his cousin, Michael (Joey Lawrence), in Los Angeles. Tommy’s mother thinks this trip will be good for Tommy, whose father had recently passed away. Michael is a stereotypically spoiled and preppy rich kid who has never worked a day in his life. He has an extremely annoying girlfriend, who is basically a walking caricature of a valley girl.
Throughout Tommy’s visit, Michael is a jerk and neglects his cousin in favor of his irritating girlfriend. Tommy returns home to Montana after a couple weeks of watching movies by himself all day long.
Tommy has an opportunity for revenge when he gets to return the favor: Michael’s parents send him to Montana to learn to be a good person and not a dirt bag. The ensuing plot is Michael learning the value of hard work while bonding with only-child Tommy as Tommy comes to terms with his father’s death.
Horse Sense was a decent, wholesome family movie. It had your classic country life vs. city life conflict, as well as the “Oh no, we’re going to lose the ranch to foreclosure!” storyline. Throw in the obligatory dead-parent narrative, and you’ve got yourself a DCOM. A lot of it was cliché, but everything is tied up nicely, which I always appreciate in a movie.
Some of my thoughts:
• This whole being-exiled-to-a-family-member’s-house-as-punishment thing seems to happen a lot in books and movies and I always wonder, who is punishing whom? Michael’s parents raised a brat so instead of actually parenting, they decide to pawn him off on Aunt Jules instead?! Also, Michael is a jerk so his punishment is to go to a ranch in Montana? I feel like that is insulting to the people who live there. The place isn’t prison, jeez.
• Haha, Michael and his girlfriend had to celebrate their two week anniversary (did I hear that right?)
• Tommy’s very respectful, Disney-approved line during his big argument with Michael: “I don’t like or respect you!”
• Why was Matthew, the middle Lawrence brother, not in this movie? Maybe he was tied up with his work on Boy Meets World?
• Michael’s girlfriend. For some reason she has a perpetually bizarre look on her face—it is hard to explain; basically, she never closes her mouth
• The only glaring/entertaining time this movie really showed its age were a couple scenes with a flip phone (and the fact that Michael was fancy for having one) and the brilliant green screen—I mean, night sky—scene with the excessively bright and large shooting star.
: I went in thinking this would be incredibly cheesy. My three-year-old son hated it and wandered off after the first 10 minutes. However, I still enjoyed it! It is by no means my favorite movie, and I'm not sure I would watch it again anytime soon, but I found it hard to pick it apart.
The characters were solid. To be honest, I don't remember the little boy's name, but I GOT HIM. His dad just died. He's hurting. At the family reunion, he had a good time with his cool older cousin. He decides to go visit said cooler older cousin, and when the older cousin doesn't live up to his expectations, he retaliates in a healthy, youthful way.
The older cousin, Michael, is realistic too. He's in college, has a new girlfriend, and the last thing he wants is to hang out with a little kid. When he gets to the ranch, his actions and disgusts are realistic, and he learns to love the ranch. He becomes a hard worker his parents can be proud of.
Even the resolution at the end worked for me. Michael laid out his proposition in a business sense that worked for the bank, and he pointed out the other failing ranches in the area. It wasn't some miraculous cure-all.
I only had a few issues, but they didn't detract from my enjoyment.
1) Gina, the girlfriend, was supposed to be a bad guy, but I got her too. She was used to the superficial world. She wasn't exactly leading Michael down the wrong path and she never did anything malicious.
2) However...Michael just didn't work for me with Gina. I wanted Michael to find a girl on the ranch, and when he didn't, I was disappointed. I get that it isn't a love story, but I wanted that for him.
3) The aunt didn't seem to even want the ranch anymore. I got the feeling it hurt her too much to live there. She could have taken money from her sister and paid it back. She seemed to know the ranch would never make it, but she kept stringing her workers and son along as if she was trying. Maybe this is unfair of me. The movie said she had too much pride to take the money. If she really wanted to save the ranch for her son, wouldn't she have accepted the loan from Michael's family?