Dream Horse centres around bored checkout operator Jan (Toni Collette – Stowaway), who dreams of owning and breeding a horse, and with the help of crowdfunding from her neighbours, she’ll manage it, but can she raise the equine animal to ultimately win the Welsh Grand National?
But despite living from paycheque to paycheque, you’ve got to have a dream because, as the song goes, if you don’t have a dream, how are you going to make a dream come true? Especially since she has a husband, Brian (Owen Teale – recently seen in Line Of Duty… come on, he must be H!), who ignores her and snores like a tractor.
She chances upon Howard Davies (Damian Lewis – Once Upon A Time In Hollywood), who once owned a share of a racehorse, and who is instrumental in helping move things along, while Joanna Page has a small role as his wife, Angela, who often feels like she’s in the plot just to make up the numbers.
It’s good to see Peter Davison (Life, and Doctor Who, of course) pop up, here as a posh rival racehorse owner, but he does come across as a bit of a cartoon villain, and I kept expecting to hear booing and hissing whenever he appeared.
Given the PG certificate and the upbeat nature of the content, it’s clearly aimed as an undemanding family film. So, for example, Brian warms to the horse when he sees her for the first time, and begins to share in his wife’s vision. For those wondering if the PG includes any mild language, there’s “shat” and “bastards”.
There’s a few inconsequential laughs in this, such as when they’re all coming up with various names to name the horse, giving a number of suitable options, but one member chips in with “Colin“… before backing it up by naming after the athelete Colin Jackson. Moments like this are good for comic timing, though.
There are also one or two aspects which feel like they were thrown in to boost the drama aspect – such as Howard’s actions regarding employment, but then films can be ‘based on a true story’ without being 100% exact.
After the hour-long mark, there’s just the Welsh Grand National event and one other, before it, still to come, and aside from that, this film does eschew humour in favour of life and its associated problems and pitfalls.
Before the biggest event, Katherine Jenkins has a cameo performing the Welsh National Anthem. They really should’ve got Tory MP John Redwood to do this instead, though… (video below, given how old that reference is)
Originally due for cinema release on April 17th 2020, like a number of movies, this one has been put back for reasons for which we’re all aware. However, it’s a good time to put it out, given that cinemas have reopened – albeit with social distancing still in place – and the blockbusters are still on the backburner at this time.
Overall, there’s no point at which Dream Horse puts a hoof wrong, but as well as being overlong by around 20 minutes, it’s not lame, but it’s not exactly galloping into my affection. Okay, I’ll stop horsing around. The film caters to its target audience, but don’t expect it to go the extra furlong… sorry-not-sorry.
Obviously, no spoilers as to how things turn out, so on a separate note, given that the real Jan and Brian, have since started a second syndicate in 2019, if this movie makes enough money, expect the sequel, Dream Horse II: Dream Harder. With explosions. Probably.
As an aside, the first part of the end credits feature the cast in the pub, sing Tom Jones’ Delilah, alongside the real Jan, Brian, Howard and Angela.
Dream Horse is released in cinemas on Friday June 4th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer and John Redwood video below:
Running time: 113 minutes
Release date: June 4th 2021
Studio: Warner Bros
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (ARRIRAW (2.8K), Anamorphic Panavision)
Director: Euros Lyn
Producers: Katherine Butler, Tracy O’Riordan
Screenplay: Neil McKay
Music: Benjamin Woodgates
Jan Vokes: Toni Collette
Howard Davies: Damian Lewis
Brian Vokes: Owen Teale
Lord Avery: Peter Davison
Angela Davies: Joanna Page
Maureen: Siân Phillips
Philip Hobbs: Nicholas Farrell
Herself: Katherine Jenkins
Herself: Clare Balding
Kerby: Karl Johnson
Maldwyn: Anthony O’Donnell
Goose: Darren Evans
Johnson White: Alex Jordan
Gerwyn: Steffan Rhodri
Elsie: Lynda Baron
Bert: Alan David
Nerys: Di Botcher
Gordon: Brian Doherty
David Patel: Raj Paul
Glenda: Katrina Maving
Kev: Rhys ap William
Alun Baldwin: Rhys Horler
James Lingsford: Max Hutchinson
Peter: Asheq Akhtar
Dylan: Carwyn Glyn
Coach Driver: Shawn Dixon
Lee Baldwin: Gerald Royston Horler
Mary: Ellis Cochlin
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.