A Long Shot of Underdog Emotion
Having relocated to Colorado with her daughter Taylor (Gage Golightly) so that her husband can take up a job, Annie Garrett (Julie Benz - Christmas Homecoming) discovers how unreliable he is when he leaves her with no money, no car and no job, just her horse Tolo and Taylor to look after. Determined not to buckle Annie finds work at Mary Lou O'Brian's (Marsha Mason - Heartbreak Ridge) stud, working as a stable hand as well as a horse trainer and befriending Mary Lou who is impressed with the passion she sees in Annie. She's also impressed with Annie's horse riding skills and enters her in an important competition, but when disaster strikes not once but twice it seems that Annie may have to give in and return home to live with her parents who following a tragedy many years earlier have become estranged to Annie.
"The Long Shot" is a made for TV movie which takes sentiment and emotion to a completely new level, a level which by the time it ends you will either be crying because of the emotional, family orientated underdog story or because you have found all the tugging at your heart strings to be too painful. And to be honest as someone who has watched plenty of emotional TV movies and countless sentimental underdog stories even I found the uplifting crescendo of emotion in "The Long Shot" a little too much. With that in mind whilst "The Long Shot" has a reasonable storyline which combines family issues with a sporting under dog story and some pleasant acting, you need to be prepared to face one big emotional scene after another.
Now to be honest "The Long Shot" feels like a collection of cliches which build on top of each other. We have Annie who has an unreliable husband and a troubled relationship with her mother thanks to a past tragedy. We also have the horse trainer who has become tortured and a little bit bitter blaming herself for a tragedy in her own life. Add to this a handsome vet who takes a shine to Annie, Annie's daughter struggling to deal with her father abandoning them, money worries and plenty more and this is 94 minutes of cliches. And the daft thing is that this hasn't even touched on the sporting cliches as both Annie and her horse Tolo become under dogs with a need to succeed for various reasons.
The thing is that whilst "The Long Shot" is really a series of cliches it strangely works and draws you in to Annie's struggle be it to make a life for herself and her daughter after her husband abandons them or when she has to come back from injury to try and succeed. You are sort of beaten into submission by the time the second cliche arrives within the first 15 minutes and you allow yourself to watch knowing that there will be little more to "The Long Shot" than one emotional cliche leading to another.
And emotional is one of the best ways to describe "The Long Shot" because every cliche has some element to tug at your heart string. You may feel sorry for Annie after her husband clears off but you are empowered by her determination to succeed, you may feel for her when something happens to her horse Tolo but her dedication to Tolo is seriously touching. And so it goes on as everything builds to the expected big final competition where Annie as the underdog has to win and at the same time you have her mother clearing the air after years of hurt. It is nothing more than you expect and it will have you crying be it in pain from all the emotional manipulation or from the joy of the obvious feel good outcome.
What this all boils down to is that "The Long Shot" will be enjoyed by some and detested by others because this is a TV movie which is high in emotion. It is to be honest little more than a series of emotional cliches which culminate to deliver a feel good ending but if you like emotional TV movies which work to a formula and pile on the emotion it will melt your heart and have you reaching for the tissues for the right reasons rather than the wrong ones.