When it came to The Costume Drama Blogathon, I wanted to choose a movie that was already on my DVR. Out of the six movies that would have fit the requirements, I decided to review The Littlest Horse Thieves! This is a Disney film that I didn’t know existed until this year. Since I reviewed Swept from the Sea and Hallmark’s Hall of Fame’s In Love and War, I thought that I would change things up by selecting a children’s/family-friendly film. What made me want to watch the movie was the historical aspect of the story. Before even hearing about The Littlest Horse Thieves, I never knew that ponies were used in the mining industry. The only animal I knew that went into mines were small birds. I was looking forward to learning something new while being entertained.
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: When it comes to casting young actors in lead roles, those performances can be hit or miss. In The Littlest Horse Thieves, the performances of all three leads were really good! Chloe Franks, Andrew Harrison, and Benjie Bolgar portray the titular horse thieves. Throughout the film, their characters were endearing and likable. The emotions these actors displayed appeared very genuine, as if their characters were real people. It was really sweet to watch the characters’ friendship evolve over the course of the film. Because of these factors, it made it easy for me to root of Alice, Dave, and Tommy.
Historical accuracy: The Littlest Horse Thieves takes place in, I believe, the early 1900s. Every aspect of this movie reflected that particular time-period really well! The sets looked like the audience could step back in time, that this point in history was not too far away. Things like wardrobe, dialect, and even the artwork on the walls brought the early 1900s to life again. Even the issues surrounding mining and employee well-being seemed to come directly from that decade. What made the historical accuracy work in this film was the creative team’s attention to detail. It shows how much care was put into this project.
Not so perfect plans: In a lot of children’s/family-friendly films, the young protagonists’ plans always work out in their favor. This is not exactly the case for The Littlest Horse Thieves. I’m not going to spoil the movie in case you want to see it. But the children sometimes overlook important details relating to their plan to save the ponies. I liked how the protagonists’ efforts didn’t go according to plan. This made the characters and their situation seem realistic and relatable.
What I didn’t like about the film:
A drawn-out story: The Littlest Horse Thieves had a drawn-out story that seemed to last too long. The first half of the movie focused on the children finding out about the conflict and figuring out how to solve it. The act of rescuing/stealing the ponies didn’t happen until the film’s halfway point. It also only lasted for a few minutes. The second half of the movie shifted the focus from the children to the adults. The overall narrative talked about everything but the most exciting part of the movie.
The editing: During the first half of the film, I noticed how less-than-stellar the editing was. It made conversations feel cut-off and transitions between scenes less smooth. These two aspects made the overall flow of the film seem choppy.
The conflict between Dave and his stepdad: Within The Littlest Horse Thieves, there was a conflict between Dave and his stepdad. It’s not the conflict itself I didn’t like. How little time was devoted to it is my biggest issue. In the first half of the film, Dave and his stepdad dislike each other. While the stepdad’s reason is never explained, Dave feels his reasons can be justified. His dislike toward his stepdad also affects his younger brother, Tommy. After the ponies are rescued/stolen, Dave and Tommy’s stepdad automatically becomes supportive of the children and their cause. The aforementioned conflict was not fully explored and felt it was there for the sake of being there.
My overall impression:
Every studio has those films that don’t always get talked about. Disney is no exception to this. That’s why I try to go out of my way to address these films on my blog. Some of them are better than others. But you never know what’s in store until you give the film a chance. For this particular blogathon, I chose to watch The Littlest Horse Thieves with an open mind. Now that I have seen it, I can honestly say that it was just ok. It’s not one of the worst things that the studio has ever made. But it’s not one of Disney’s strongest efforts. In fact, I could see children, especially younger ones, becoming bored by this movie. However, people who like British and/or historical fiction films will probably like it. Its historical accuracy is pretty satisfying and there are moments that I found educational. I could tell that the creative team behind this film tried their best to make something worthwhile. But it wasn’t as impressive as it could have been.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Have you seen The Littlest Horse Thieves? Which film from a major studio do think is underrated? Please share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!