Buffalo Dreams (2005) / Family-Drama
aka Wild West Biking
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably G, suitable for all ages
Running Time: 90 min.
Cast: Reiley McClendon, Simon Baker, Jane Sibbett, George Newbern, Graham Greene, Max Van Ville, Tessa Vonn, Geraldine Keams, Christopher Robin Miller, Seth Packard
Director: David Jackson
Screenplay: Marjorie Schwartz Nielsen
Review published March 11, 2005
It's a movie made for the Disney Channel, so temper your expectations. This means if you're a young kid, you might enjoy it, and if you're not, you probably won't. It's full of clichés, silly stereotypes, and a heaping helping of predictability, but does anyone look for a made-for-Disney movie to be a masterpiece? Probably not. Still, for what it is, it didn't need to be this embarrassingly hokey, with a cringe-inducing gimmick whereby kids sing "Lean on Me" to get buffalo to submit to their will (something they come to the person, and sometimes they run away -- how do they know?)
Basically, this is about a White couple who moves to Dine territory in order for scientist daddy to work at the local research lab. Josh is their son, who seemingly has nothing better to do than to ride his bike up and down the buffalo preserves, but later ends up working with some other youths in trying to maintain it. Meanwhile, some local mountain biking teens without much of a life rock Josh's world by soiling the favorite Navajo swimming spot. All of this leads to a showdown between Josh and the wheeled delinquents for the fate of the area.
This is par for the course as far as TV kids movies go, and as long as you know what you're getting yourself into, you'll find it easy to keep perspective. As usual with movies featuring Native Americans, they are depicted as showing great wisdom in all things, respecting nature and their role in it. Non-natives are seen as either polluters, self-servers, or skeptics, with nothing better to do than defile sacred water spas and sagebrush just for kicks. You know where this is headed, right?
Buffalo Dreams offers a few nice touches here and there, but it's all too pat and predictable for anyone who has seen any of the hundreds of films just like it. Of course, many viewers will be too young to have seen them, so obviously the mileage will vary among the film's target crowd. Cute and well-meaning, but also quite bland and irritating as well. If you aren't a regular Disney Channel viewer, you need not apply.
©2005 Vince Leo