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(2005), PG [G-PG*] (1hr 38min)

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
October 20, 2005
88 out of 100

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Christian Long Distance

(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)

If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary.

(2005), PG [G-PG*] -- ... with five foul words added.

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): S.K.G. Productions LLC, DreamWorks Productions LLC, Hyde Park Entertainment, Tollin/Robbins Productions
Distribution (US): DreamWorks Distribution LLC
Director(s): John Gatins
Producer(s): Ashok Amritraj, Stacy Cohen, William M. Elvin, Nick Hamson , Jon J. Jashni, Bill Johnson, Hunt Lowry, Brian Robbins, Caitlin Scanlon, Lars Sylvest, Michael Tollin
Written by: John Gatins
Cinematography/Camera: Fred Murphy
Music: John Debney
Film Editing: David Rosenbloom
Casting: Sarah Finn, Randi Hiller
Production Design: Brent Thomas
Art Direction: Scott Plauche
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6

An interesting and revealing thing happened at the pre-release screening of this film last night (October 20, 2005). Three films were been screened. North Country (R), Doom (R) and this Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (PG). Guess which one drew the most reviewers? Doom. A sign of the times.

Dreamer is every other child's horse film wrapped on into one but with five foul words added. And an attitude. I guess that is "justified" by "Rated PG for brief mild language." And not one of the foul words added any power to the film.

Indeed, the strongest point loss was in the Impudence/Hate investigation area which includes foul language as part of attitude. In terms not of the severity of individual examples of impudence/hate but in the sheer number of them in the film (see CAP Rule of 1000) Dreamer is morally equivalent to some "lite" R-rated films in Impudence/Hate. However, it is fully equivalent to G-rated films in all of the other five CAP investigation areas. Thus is revealed one of the great features of the CAP analysis model.

A seasoned horseman, Ben Crane (Kurt Russell) and his family have fallen on hard times. Their once expansive and lush horse training farm has shrunk by selling off pieces to pay the bills. Ben's closeness with his family has also shrunk due to his growing feeling of worthlessness and somewhat bitter reaction to what life has delt him.

Wife, Lily (Elizabeth Shue), one of the most wise and noble, unselfish wives I've seen on screen for a long time, keeps up her loyalty to the family as she tries her best as a waitress to help pay the bills. Ben's daughter, Cale (11 year old Dakota Fanning) never loses faith in her father and wants to be a horse trainer, too. So much so that Cale ran in front of her father's moving truck to stop him in an effort to convince Ben to take her to work with him.

After losing nearly everything, including his status as a famous horse trainer, Ben is left with a token job for Palmer (David Morse), a most insufferable uncaring race horse owner who enjoyed having a once-great under his thumb. Ben was Palmer's horse handler.

The villainous Palmer demanded that his horse, Soñador (Spanish for Dreamer) proceed in a race even though Ben advised Palmer strongly that Soñador's leg is not fit for the race.

Not long into the race, the horse's front left leg broke. Both horse and jockey tumbled dangerously. A racing horse with a broken leg is not likely to ever race again according to the movie. Not wanting to put the horse down (put the horse to sleep) in front of Cale, Ben had the horse taken to its stall for the euphemism.

Soñador and Cale had instantly developed an almost mystic bond in the stables in the moments before the race. Ben's love for his daughter could not destroy that which she loved. Ben verbally battled with Palmer to let Ben take the horse. As it turned out, Palmer owed Ben $9000. So Ben settled for the $6000 Palmer had on hand ... plus the horse with a broken leg.

Helping Ben are hired hands ex-jockey Manolin (Freddy Rodríguez) and Balon (Luis Guzmán). Manolin "Manny" was seriously injured in a race and felt that the trauma was God's signal to him to stop racing ... for a while. Balon, with a face only a mother could love and a heart of gold and Manny had developed a good relationship with Cale for some time. When Ben was fired by Palmer, Manny and Balon went with Ben. Together all three, with the irresistible urging of Cale, tired the best to nurse Soñador back to at least breeding health.

Once back home, Ben's estranged and crusty father "Pop" Crane (Kris Kristofferson) who had been at odds with Ben for a long time who had been to Ben what Ben is to Cale, once again became more than background noise to the Crane family.

Now the stage is set for about an hour more of some of the best heart-warming, value-affirming performances and story I have seen in a very long time.

But in addition to the five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary, [2 Tim. 2:16] there are some demonstrations of impudence such as Cale's disrespect for father, her defiance of her father's rules and an attempt to run away. [Eph. 6:1, Col. 3:20] There are also a couple demonstrations of poor parenting such as one parent telling the other parent to lie to their child. [Matt. 18:10, Matt. 25:40] While horse race gambling is not illegal in Kentucky it is against God's wishes and it is shown to be highly profitable in this film. [Hab. 2:9] And racial insults are thrown at Manny and Balon. [Eph. 4:29]

Please inspect the listing of findings in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide whether this film is family friendly.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.


  • 2 Tim. 2:16 - 17 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker...
  • Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
  • Col. 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
  • Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. ["Despise" is kataphroneo {kat-af-ron-eh'-o}: 1) to condemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of, to look down upon (which includes abuse, even by influence and lying to them)]
  • Hab. 2:9 Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!
  • Eph. 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it].
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
  • Rom. 5:19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
  • Jude 1:4 For there are certain men* crept in unawares [secretly slipped in among you], who were before of old ordained to this condemnation [whose condemnation was written about long ago], ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [a license for immorality], and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. ["Offend": skandalizo - to entice to sin; to cause a person to begin to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey; to cause to fall away. "Little ones": mikros - little;, small of age; younger which can include at-home teens].
  • Ps. 119:133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me [let no sin rule over me].
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil. ["Evil" includes all things that are sinful.]


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.
    (The objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
    Commentary section.

    Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story (2005) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • runaway horse with little girl on it
  • racing trauma with incapacitating injury to human

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • five uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • husband telling wife to lie to daughter
  • child running in front of father's moving truck to stop him
  • racial insults of Mexican heritage, repeatedly
  • gambling, though legal in Kentucky it is against God's Will
  • child sneaking out of house to defy father's rule let alone after dark, seen twice but evidence of many times
  • little girl trying to run away
  • little child telling father "Don't treat me like a little child"
  • adult insult of a child
  • unsportsmanlike conduct

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • "He likes to wear a dress" insult for a child's benefit

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • none noted

    Offense to God (O)
  • a single use of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

  • Christian Educators Association International



    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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