"The Greening of Whitney Brown" is a kind of reverse-fairy tale about a spoiled Philadelphia middle school student (Sammi Hanratty) forced to ditch the limelight and the lattes when her affluent father (Aidan Quinn) loses his job — and everything along with it.
But a worst-nightmare move to the sticks and into the farmhouse owned by her dad's estranged father (Kris Kristofferson) proves a much-needed reality check as Whitney reorders priorities, befriends a genial horse named Bob, bonds with her long-lost grandpa, and learns to live a popularity- and cellphone-free life.
After a grating start, the movie, directed by Peter Odiorne from a script by Gail Gilchriest ("My Dog Skip"), finds its way into warmer, more likable territory. That is, until it flies off the rails in a third act so devoid of logic it could have been concocted on the moon.
Still, Hanratty, who evokes Lindsay Lohan in her Disney heyday, manages to hold together the bubbly silliness. She deftly works her way through such a wide array of behaviors and comic bits (her run-in with an archaic pay phone is a stitch) that it's actually sort of amazing. Brooke Shields is also on hand in a nice turn as Whitney's equitable mom.