Director: Randall Wallace
Stars: Diane Lane
So, we all know the story of the super horse, Secretariat and his awesome exploits, and if you don’t… Google it. Anyway, leave it to Disney to turn into a real life wonder-story into an emotional family friendly story. Of course, since it is a product of Disney, you know it’s going to be a quality piece of film making, so right off the bat, it caught my attention. Horse racing is a bit of a hobby of mine, and sort of a family trait, so these movies (Seabiscuit, to name another) really strike my fancy; however, I’ll try to remain as unbiased as possible when reviewing the movie.
For those of you who don’t know who Secretariat is, or those of you who didn’t care to take my googling advice, he was a race horse – arguably the greatest horse of all time. Secretariat was also the last Triple Crown winner (winning the three biggest races in the United States), and he won the last race by an outrageous margin, making him the most famous race horse of all time as well. Well, you guessed it, the movie is based off the real life tale of the horse.
Now, how can you make a movie about a race horse, even one with a story as grand as this? Well, it’s easy really, and Secretariat took a page out of Seabiscuits playbook. The writers did a wonderful job of portraying the owner of the horse, Penny Chenery and her rise to fame with this horse. However, all the other characters seemed a bit lacking, Lucian Laurin’s character seemed a little too far fetched. Although, he may well have been that… unique in real life (I wasn’t even a thought in my parent’s head’s during this time), but John Malkovich did a decent job making him believable. I said Penny Chenery’s character was well written – yes, but it wasn’t well acted. I did not enjoy Diane Lane’s performance at all. Everything about it seemed forced and a bit on the cheesey side, especially her emotional scenes when the tears were meant to flow. Her acting in this seemed a bit amateur (And let the head biting commence.).
Though, as I said, the story is a great one. It’s a real life event that was made for the big screen. No, it’s not as inspirational as Seabiscuit, and it’s not meant to be – although Disney did give it their all. I did claim the writing was wonderful, and it is. But the direction of the movie just doesn’t seem right. Secretariat was made for fame, right from birth; he was never meant to be an underdog story, or an emotionally moving piece. He was the equivalent of an all American Quarterback who had one bad game. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how movies are made, and it needs to have that penultimate moment, the emotional drop before you can hit the audience with the big comeback… but again, it was a bit forced: they made mountains out of molehills. After all, the story didn’t need that emotional downer, the final race was enough to get me excited, and wow me, even more so since I wasn’t around to see it happen, It sure was fun to see the distance and the accomplishment of Secretariat as he won the Belmont – and the Triple Crown.
The cinematography was something to behold – it always is in a movie such as this. The shot’s of the racing were breath-taking at times, and I truly got lost in some of the scenes. I even found myself saying “Oh, wow, I wonder how they got that shot!” Like I was a little kid seeing his first movie. It made me smile to know that there are some movies that still have that power over me. It was really special, as I said to see the final moments of the Belmont Stakes be played out, but to seen the shot at a wide angle was phenomenal, and again… it made me smile.
In closing, the movie has the classic Disney cheese, but it also has that Disney something that makes it special. I would recommend this as a family movie (obviously, it’s from Disney), or to anyone who enjoys horses, horse racing, or anything of that sort. However, I must warn you though that if you’re looking for the intensity and inspiration of Seabiscuit… then watch Seabiscuit. Disney’s Secretariat is Seabiscuit for everybody to enjoy.
Overall, 3.5 outta 5