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Hidalgo

Just a man and his horse

While the promos for Hidalgo say that the movie is "based on a true story" yada yada yada, this flick is hardly accurate. What it does do is play like a Disney movie rather than a true adventure or even personal journey.

Frank Hopkins aka Far Rider, aka the Infidel (Viggo Mortensen), a half Native American/half White cowboy, whose as mixed blooded as his beloved 100% Mustang horse/companion, Hidalgo, has some issues. While he's lauded as the best long distance racer in the 'world', Frank's day job as a Pony Express courier - being a harbinger of death and destruction - has left him hollow. He tries to drown his sorrows in drink and a new gig with a literal horse-and-pony show but to no avail. After a Bedouin sheikh hears word of his racing accomplishments, he is 'strongly urged' to participate in the famed cross-country competition known as The Ocean of Fire, as it takes place through the scorching deserts of the Middle East.

The movie's title is accurate as the horse Hidalgo plays a major role in the film, at times even upstaging its human colleagues (I can just imagine avid fans of TV channel Animal Planet going crazy for this act). However, Frank's attachment to his four-legged friend can border on the bizarre. But what do I know - I don't own a horse.

There are lots of good-looking people, not the least of who is Omar Sharif who plays Sheikh Riyadh, the sheikh of all sheiks who organizes the race, and Mr. Mortensen's soulful eyes are still to die for post-his role as Aragorn in the famed Lord of the Rings series.

While the movie is drowning is saccharine goodness, there are funny moments cutting through all the cheesiness. In one scene, when Frank first meets the Sheikh and moves to shake his hand, the leader's petulant assistant Aziz (Adam Alexi-Malle) snaps that, "If the highness were to touch an infidel, he would lose his ability to foretell the future." The deadpan delivery is sure to illicit a much needed chuckle out of you.