Katherine "Katy" McLaughlin has dreams of running her father's Wyoming horse ranch, but her father, Rob, has other plans. He is grooming her older brother, Howard, to take over the ranch and sends Katy away to a private school where she feels like a misfit. Rob is having trouble understanding his daughter as she continually defies his authority to follow her own path. When she comes home for the summer, Katy is met with her father's disapproval because she did not finish a writing assignment at school, but is greeted by her mother, Nell, and Howard. Howard wants to attend college. While out riding, Katy finds a wild mustang , and feels a connection with the horse. She sets off to tame "Flicka" (Swedish for little girl), despite her father's protests.
Flicka is captured during a roundup, and Rob asks Katy not to go near Flicka. Determined to prove she can run the ranch, Katy starts training Flicka at night. Flicka slowly warms to Katy and the two develop a close bond. Rob sells Flicka to the rodeo, leaving Katy devastated. Nell and Howard are furious at Rob about making the decision without including them. Howard stands up to his father and says that he does not want the ranch and Rob refuses to take Flicka back. Howard and Nell refuse to help Rob with the ranch, which he is now considering selling since Howard does not want it. Katy starts writing about Flicka to escape her pain.
At the rodeo, Howard and Katy enter the competition that Flicka is being used in, hoping to get the horse back. Flicka runs from Katy until the girl calls her name. Rob tries to intervene and Katy freezes at the sight of him. Howard boosts his sister onto Flicka and the two escape. Katy becomes lost in the mountains, and allows Flicka to make her way towards the ranch. The family reconciles and searches for Katy as a fierce thunderstorm moves in. Katy and Flicka are attacked by a mountain lion. Flicka bolts, throwing Katy to the ground and the lion goes to attack her. Flicka protects Katy, but is badly wounded. The girl binds Flicka's wounds, refuses to leave her and develops a fever. Rob finds the two and brings a delirious Katy back to the house. As her fever spikes, Katy calls for Flicka as Nell tends to her. Rob thinks Flicka is mortally wounded and believes she should be put down. Overhearing the argument, a dazed Katy stumbles into the room and gives her father permission to "shoot us now."
Rob goes outside and begins to cry as he finally understands his daughter's feelings and her pain. A gunshot is heard and Katy bursts into tears, thinking Flicka is dead. The next morning, Nell finds Rob walking back to the house, supporting the injured Flicka. She runs outside to help and finds out that the gunshot was him shooting at the mountain lion. Both are stunned that Flicka is alive and decide not to put her down. Katy's fever breaks and she begins to recover. As he watches over his daughter, Rob reads the story that Katy had been writing about Flicka, eventually typing the story and sending it to the school so that Katy can pass for the year. When Katy wakes from the fever, she and Rob reconcile and he takes her to see Flicka. Rob apologizes to Howard and gives his son his blessing and Howard prepares for college. As a family, they decide to not sell the ranch, making it both a working ranch and a refuge for wild mustangs.Alison Lohman as Katy McLaughlin
Tim McGraw as Rob McLaughlin
Maria Bello as Nell McLaughlin
Ryan Kwanten as Howard McLaughlin
Dallas Roberts as Gus
Nick Searcy as Norbert Rye
Danny Pino as Jack
Kaylee DeFer as Miranda Koop
Jeffrey Nordling as Rick Koop
Dey Young as Esther Koop
Buck Taylor as Wagner
Flicka was theatrically released on October 20, 2006, by 20th Century Fox. It was released on DVD on February 6, 2007, by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.
Flicka received generally average reviews from critics. Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an approval rating of 54% based on 78 reviews, with an average rating of 5.7/10. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 57 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Variety's Todd McCarthy praised the film as "wonderful", called it "the best horse-and-kid picture since The Black Stallion" and "a young adult drama that rings emotionally true, with nary a manufactured note struck" that is "sharply observed and acted". Similarly, Stephen Hunter in The Washington Post described it as "a well-made family drama pitched to young adults that's honest, tough and surprisingly engaging" while praising McGraw's, Bello's and Lohman's performances. In the Toronto Star, Daphne Gordon also praised Alison Lohman, claiming that she "makes the whole thing worth watching" but conceding that "there are some flaws in the script that make the drama seem overwrought and manipulative".
On the other hand, Andrea Gronvall was unimpressed by Lohman while writing for the Chicago Reader, calling her performance "alternately shrill and pouty" and deeming the film to be "another miscalculation" on the part of director Michael Mayer. Writing for The New York Times, Manohla Dargis also mocked Lohman's "pouty" performance and labeled the film as "entertainingly ridiculous" with "parts [that] never cohere dramatically". Toddy Burton of the Austin Chronicle was less down on Lohman, conceding that she "has a couple of emotionally true moments" but ultimately felt that "the thin plot and absence of genuine emotion result in a moviegoing experience that involves a lot of eye-rolling".
Two horses died during the production of this movie. The first death occurred at Big Sky Ranch in Simi Valley, California, on April 11, 2005 during a running scene. According to the American Humane Association (AHA), the horse broke its leg after a misstep and suffered a very rare injury requiring the animal to be euthanized. The AHA's report concluded that the "death was accidental and could not have been predicted or prevented." The second horse died two weeks later on April 25, 2005, at the Hansen Dam Equestrian Center in San Fernando Valley. Reports from both the AHA and the Los Angeles Animal Services Department concluded that during the shooting of a scene involving four horses, one of them got loose from the cowboy who was holding its lead rope, and after having been running loose for some 20 seconds, the horse changed direction and tripped on the regulation length 13-foot lead rope and fell to the ground, breaking its neck and dying instantly. As the accident would not have happened if the horse had not come loose, the Los Angeles Animal Services Department concluded that the accident had been preventable. However, after an investigation, the AHA declared that the deaths were not the fault of the filmmakers.
A sequel to Flicka, Flicka 2 was released direct to DVD on May 4, 2010. Pre-production cinematography started in April 2009. The sequel bears an entirely new cast and character list and is not a direct follow-up to Flicka. Flicka 2 features Patrick Warburton, Tammin Sursok and Clint Black. The movie was directed by Michael Damian. Another sequel, Flicka: Country Pride, was released on May 1, 2012. With Damian returning as director, it also features Clint Black, along with Kacey Rohl, Black's wife Lisa Hartman-Black, Max Lloyd-Jones, Siobhan Williams, Laura Solties and Alexander Calvert. When asked if the Flicka franchise could follow the Air Bud, Beethoven and Marley & Me franchises by having its animal star talk, Damian responded, "I don’t think so. But you know, never say never, because you never know what will happen. Stranger things have happened. I’m open to everything."
A soundtrack album was released October 17, 2006.Critics Choice Award - Best Family Film (Live Action) - Alison Lohman - Nominated
Critics Choice Award - Best Song - Tim McGraw For the song "My Little Girl". - Nominated