OREM — If the recipe for a good movie is simply beautiful photography, pretty good acting and a happy ending, "Storm Rider" has what it takes.
However, this Hallmark Channel-style movie also has a few elements that make the story a little implausible.
Everybody gets what they need or deserve by the conclusion of the film, screened at the 2014 LDS Film Festival. The rocky relationships smooth out, the "wicked witch of the West" goes away and — surprise — the favorite horse wins the race.
The hero, Sam Fielding (Kevin Sorbo), even tosses a diamond ring to the lady love, Jody, (played by Kristy Swanson) who he's previously taken for granted.
It's just a bit much, but isn't to say this movie isn't a good one.
It's so nicely photographed and told that it's forgivable. Watching "Storm Rider" is like a pleasant float downstream in the sunshine on a pretty river.
Writer/director Craig Clyde had put together a winning cast with Sorbo, Swanson, Danielle Chuchran as Dani and Jacob Buster as her adorable little brother Jordan.
Dani has just won a horse show with her champion when her world falls apart.
Her wealthy dad is going to prison for securities fraud. Her stepmom is walking out. Dani is losing her home and the world she knows, and finds herself "sentenced" to live with her uncle, Sam.
Sam knows nothing about feeding or raising a teenage girl, but he learns very quickly.
His house is a mess. He's a hard-nosed but basically decent guy, and he gives Dani a baby mule to love and train. It's a mule that's been kicked around in life thus far.
The mule is named "Stormy" and becomes the center of Dani's world and a kind of catalyst for the movie. She and Stormy become inseparable until Dani gets the chance to compete again on a real horse.
The movie is pretty good up until that point, but after a plane wreck where everybody is thrown out but still well enough to load onto horses and drag out bumping and bouncing it loses traction.
Dani and Sam work out a pretty good relationship despite the fact that neither one had much choice about the living arrangement and they're both pretty used to getting their own way.
Again, this flick is sweet and easy to watch. There's no sex, no violence, no harsh moments.
It's kinda nice that everything works out.
Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com.