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horse boy
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The Horse Boy

Starring Rupert Isaacson and Kristin Neff; Rowan Isaacson
Screenplay by Rupert Isaacson
Based on the National Bestseller The Horse Boy: A Father's Quest to Heal His Son
Directed by Michel Orion Scott and Rupert Isaacson
website: www.horseboymovie.com/

IN SHORT: For those of parental age, a truly touching story. [Not Rated .93 minutes]

Not that there aren't GenXers out there who won't be touched by the story of The Horse Boy... thinking back to what we paid attention to at that age, movies about raising kids were not on the list. Those who dropped kids prior to say age 19 or so have our apologies (you, too, mom!)

We don't review many documentaries anymore. We used to but you readers weren't much interested. That doesn't mean we haven't kept an eye out for things of interest. Here you have it, The Horse Boy, which takes the parents of a young son with autism halfway around the world, hoping for something resembling a cure.

The Horse Boy is the story of Rupert Isaacson and his wife Kristin Neff. He is a writer/ former horse trainer who gets props for human rights work in Africa. She is a psychology professor. Their five year old son Rowan has been afflicted with autism since age two which, on the off chance that you have no idea, is something no parent wants to endure. An autistic child may go days or weeks without uttering a word and then follow it up with nonstop screaming at the top of his/her lungs for no apparent reason at all. Said child may be able to communicate verbally but maybe not and he may be prone to run wildly out of control all about wherever. Think "terrible twos without any potty training" and you'll be pretty close. The film generously adds a talking head here and there to keep you in step with anything medical you may need to know.

Rowan has verbal ability but the only apparent circumstance in which he is able to do so involves sitting on a horse. Specifically a neighbor's horse, called Betsy, on which father and son ride every day. So, wonder the parents, where in the world is there a place where healing and  horses come together as one? Sure, we'd love to think there is such a place here in these United States but that wouldn't yield much of a story, so . . . The answer is Mongolia, home to shamans and mystical thinking and whispered tales of miracles and some pretty spectacular scenery. We're not so naive that we believe that the decision to schlep around the world was made in real time (ie. during the time of the making of the film) but by ignoring that wee point we were sucked into this true story, heart and soul.

The Horse Boy is a story of true parental love. We've seen far too many stories in which the child is pawn to fighting parents, or manipulates parents into doing whatever. This is not that kind of story. As we follow the family halfway around the world we really got to know them and sympathize and, once the final scene played out (and we're not spilling) we were thoroughly hooked.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Horse Boy, he would have paid . . .


It's a fine sit. If the idea of paying full price for a documentary on a big screen appalls you, rent. By the time the DVD is finished, you will have wished you  had seen The Horse Boy in a theater.

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