Opens Fri., Oct. 21, at Metro and others.

Hollywood must have finally run out of small children, because that greedy little Dakota Fanning is in yet another movie. As if it isn't enough to work with Denzel Washington and Robert De Niro, now she's got to stake her claim on Kurt Russell and Kris Kristofferson. Her latest movie ("inspired by a true story") tells of a racehorse destined for the 1993 Breeders' Cup until a leg injury crippled it. Dakota plays Cale, daughter of Ben Crane (Russell), who acquires and trains the injured beast. Money is short for the Crane family, and Ben doesn't speak to his estranged father (Kristofferson), though he lives only yards away. Meanwhile, as you'd expect, Cale helps nurture the racehorse back to health and, eventually, back to racing.

Dreamer will likely prove to be a lovely little story for kids (at the preview, most were cheering and screaming in my ear), but its vagueness will irritate parents. There is no information as to why Ben stopped training his own horses, just declarations like, "There will never be another horse in this barn!" And never mind trying to figure out what "marital problems" Elisabeth Shue (as Ben's wife) is referring to, or why Ben and his father are so distant. Just look at the pretty horses run.

For older sisters assigned to peewee matinee duty, there is some enjoyment from the side characters, like ex-jockey Manolin (handsome Freddy Rodríguez of Six Feet Under), with a fake beer gut that is so obscene on his lithe body that he looks pregnant. And there's some consolation in the fact that we probably won't be seeing another Dakota Fanning film until she gets some dental work done on her horsey chompers. (PG)

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