Thursday, February 10, 2011


The back jacket of the DVD says, "from the producers of Miracle, Invincible, and The Rookie" and like those movies this one features a doggedly determined underdog. Here the film is called Secretariat, after the horse who completed the astounding feat of winning racing's Triple Crown, but it should be titled Penny Chenery, the name of the woman who owned the horse. After the death of her mother, Penny took over her father's horse breeding farm, as he was unfit to do so due to dementia. When one of her stock, bears a particularly strong colt she decides to race it in order to get the farm out of debt. Secretariat is a movie that strangely reminded me of Ben-Hur in that (now my memory may be clouded on the Heston classic) that the race scene (scenes here) stand our as excellent and all other elements of the story fade in the background. With Secretariat, it is hard to care about the drama (will the bank take the farm?) when we know the outcome of the story (she obviously earns enough to save it). Diane Lane succeeds in the lead, even though her earnestness is occasionally irritating, but i thought the rest of the cast came off as either self-righteous, cartoonish, or cliche. Even John Malkovich as the unorthodox (why are these type of characters unorthodox) does not really hit the right notes (he doesn't have a great script to work with either). I just wanted to add that Margo Martindale, who plays Lane's confidant, is dreadful. The film also has trouble establishing villains in the form of rival horse Sham's owner and, as doubters more so than villains, Penny's brother and husband who think her plans are foolish and threaten to take legal actions to thwart her. With that said I did kind of enjoy this for what it is, a campy corny Disney flick and again those race scenes are so well filmed that they almost make it worth the price of admission.