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Fandango classifies The Greening of Whitney Brown as an art house/foreign/action/adventure film. They are only half right. It is playing a local art house (Reading Cinemas Gaslamp 15), but I must have glanced down at my watch and missed the action/adventure scenes in this girl and her horse romcom. Fandango did manage to get one piece of their generic thumbnail correct: always doing my best to surf past Disney Channel sitcoms, the concept of a made-for-TV high school comicality (that erroneously found its way to the big screen) is indeed something foreign.

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Sammi Hanratty and her resourceful roan, Odd Job Bob.

Sammi Hanratty, a stridulous moppet ennobled by Vanna White syndrome -- a head that is disproportionately larger than the rest of her body -- stars as witless Whitney, one of the spoiled-rotten "popular girls" in her class. (Oddly enough, her title credit reads, "Introducing Sammi Hanratty," yet a quick perusal of her IMBD filmography turns up several movie roles.) News arrives that dad (Aidan Quinn, walking like a zombie tempted to forward motion by a paycheck dangling from a stick) lost his high-paying job and is moving the family from Philadelphia to grandpa Grumps' (Kris Kristofferson, sounding like Gabby Hayes with a mouth filled with maple syrup) quaint abode in Hooterville.

Here's a shock: hell soon becomes heaven as a humbled Whitney meets the grandfather she never knew and falls in love with a ubiquitous Gypsy Colt named Odd Job Bob, the smartest cinema steed since Roy Rogers unstuffed Trigger. The film earns its one-star rating based solely on the plug's performance.

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All those years working with Bob 'Fountain of Youth' Hope rubbed off on the eternally vivacious Brooke Shields.

Normally it takes me just long enough (about five-seconds) to realize that it's a pixel-laden DVD image sullying the screen before turning and bolting towards the exit door. In this case, it hardly mattered, seeing it's doubtful this TV trifle would have stuck to celluloid.

I suppose this is no better or worse than the majority of family-friendly pictures currently clotting multiplex arteries, but you couldn't prove it by the opening night crowd. Two middle-aged friends and I sat alone in the auditorium adding our own decisiverunning commentary track. If you want to take the youngsters, it's best that you lace their Sugar Pops with methamphetamine to keep them awake. The Greening of Whitney Brown screens through Thursday at 10:20 pm.

Reader Rating: One Star

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