Spirit Untamed is a Dreamworks animated film written by Aury Wallington and directed by Elaine Bogan. It follows a young, headstrong girl, Lucky Prescott (Isabela Merced), who encounters an equally wild, stubborn horse Lucky named Spirit. The film feels a bit flat visually, musically, and dialogue-wise. However, children may come to love this movie, and its message is an important one for kids, especially young girls.
Casting Hindered By Flat Dialogue
Spirit Untamed‘s casting is exciting from a vocal standpoint as each character’s voice fits. Lucky’s friends, Pru (Marsai Martin) and Abigail (McKenna Grace), suit their respective roles. The rest of the star cast is Jake Gyllenhaal as Lucky’s dad Jim and Julianne Moore as her Aunt Cora.
The issue is the dialogue in Spirit Untamed often feels flat. It becomes glaring when we see interactions between Lucky and her father. The conversation and their reactions seem forced, as though they’re pushing an emotion that’s not present. But interactions later feel more natural. It’s just trying to get there. The best relationship is between Lucky and Spirit and Abigail’s brother Snips (Lucian Perez) and Snip’s mini mule.
Plot Works But Animations Feels Standard
The plot is engaging as Lucky tries to befriend Spirit, and villains want to break Spirit and sell him. Everyone should live free, and Spirit will garner that emotion from viewers. The animation is good but given previous animated films, including from Dreamworks, it feels plain. It’s as though the majority of the film was hurried or just phoned in.
Adult viewers will be hard-pressed to pay attention to the film. There are occasional moments that inspire a chuckle. However, there’s little here that inspires fully body laughter or guffaws. The dialogue feels like filler for the runtime, and every anime fan knows how atrocious fillers are.
Hilarious and Engaging Climax
The film does entertain towards the end. But it’s frustrating and wasteful to wait till then to feel invested. Still, by the end, adults may even cheer for the film. After all, seeing a trio of brave girls embark on a journey is a beautiful message. The diversity is also inspiring. It’s uplifting to know generations coming up now have an opportunity to see themselves reflected in films and animations that many of us lacked as children.
If the dialogue was better, Spirit Untamed could have been a magical film. It has beautiful moments, just not enough to rise beyond bearable for adults. A lot of the relationships are shallow, with no profound connection or engagement. The little depth that is attempted unnatural. However, kids may find the magic here; adorable, quirky kids and animals are the main characters.
We can never have too many messages telling us to be who we are and accept ourselves even when others do not. Society will do everything in its power to discourage that. For adults, some other films convey this message skillfully and with depth. But for children, it’s cute, and the ending was hilarious. If you have kids who want to see it, it’s worth watching just to see the wonder and joy on the kids’ faces.
Feature photo courtesy of Universal Pictures and Dreamworks Animation