29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Denver housewife Penny Chenery (Diane Lane) takes over her father's horse racing empire when he falls ill, commuting to Virginia to take care of the farm. Having grown up in the racing world, she knows about bloodlines and invests all her efforts in Big Red, soon to be renamed Secretariat. She hires a good, but retired trainer (John Malkovich) and soon the horse is headed for the Triple Crown.
Secretariat was arguably the best race horse ever and deserved a good movie. And while the movie is good, it isn't great because Penny is the focus and the "Don't call me a housewife!" mantra gets old fast. Her success shouldn't have surprised anyone since she grew up in the horse business. She didn't have a personal, loving relationship with the horse; he was merely her meal ticket. The movie's excitement comes from Secretariat's races, which are filmed with heart-stopping intensity. The final race of the film has got to be the Most Exciting Horse Race Ever. It simply is not to be believed.
Diane Lane is fine in the role and the early 70s are recreated well with period cars and wardrobe. If you're a racing fan, you'll enjoy this film.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 September 2011
This is a great story of a legendary horse sometimes referred to as the "greatest racehorse that ever lived". It has much more of a human interest plot that many other similar "horse movies" so not all the action is centred around the horse. Often it focusses on the people around the horse. This makes for a fuller, more satisfying movie.
The racing sequences are brilliant and the special features of the original races etc give a great perspective on the reality of the plot and the amazing feats that this horse achieved.
In Australia, our racing hero is "Phar Lap" (see movie) with more than a few similarities to the Secretariat story of hope and inspiration to a population in bad times.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2011
A a horse-lover my husband got me this film but wasn't expecting much. Neither of us could be torn away from the screen. A very moving, heart-warming story for all the family. For both horse lovers and non-lovers. Will definately watch again and again.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2011
I only recently watched Secretariat on a flight from London to the Caribbean last week (Feb 2011). I'd never heard of it and it was the first of the movies I decided I'd watch on the flight over. I ended up not watching anything else. And, I know this may sound sad but I watched it more than once during nine hours and it had me bubbling at the same place each time.
I think it's a great inspirational true story about courage and belief and it's suitable for all the family to watch. Such a pity it didn't get pre-release coverage here in the UK as had it done so, I do believe it would have done quite well, that said though, this movie won't be everybody's cup of tea.
I'll definitely get the dvd to add to my collection so my family can see it sometime.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
In the 60's there were two types of families: Those that had avocado kitchens and those pretentious families that had sunflower yellow kitchens. These were sunflower yellow families whose kids wanted to run away and join Allende's Chile and stole their school project idea from Simon and Garfunkel and pretended to pass it off on their own. The avocado kids were up to their knees in rice patties getting their limbs shot off by Charlie.
Since we already know the horse wins the triple crown, the movie attempts to create drama where none exists. John Malkovich plays a trainer whose clothes sometimes appear to be made from discarded table cloths. The husband is stereotypically non-supportive, until the end. When dad dies the poor family has a 6 million dollar estate tax and only 11 million dollars worth of horses. My heart just bled for poor little rich Penny who wanted to keep her prize horse. Around this point she becomes a Republican, who attends all white parties while the black horse groomer sleeps on hay.
While the acting was good, I found the script to be a bit pretentious.
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 4 December 2010
As this is a movie about a horse I had to go see it 1st day it hit the cinema. It was absolutely fantastic. I don't have an interest in horse racing but thanks to this movie I now know what a fantastic horse Big Red (Secretariat)was. There are many beautiful close up scenes of Reds' eyes and beautiful words describing the horses spirit. For me this was an amazing movie about an amazing horse!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Secretariat is directed by Randall Wallace and written by Mike Rich and Sheldon Turner. It stars Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Margo Martindale, Amanda Michalka, Dylan Walsh, Scott Glenn, Kevin Connolly, Dylan Baker, James Cromwell and Drew Roy. Music is by Nick Glennie-Smith and cinematography by Dean Semler.
With the success and quality of production that came with 2003's Seabiscuit, it was perhaps inevitable that someone would turn their hand to making a film about a horse that many agree is the greatest American horse of all time. With Disney funding the cash flow and an A list cast assembled, Secretariat the movie is every inch the professional production you would expect. However, thematically it's surprising that the horse is very much secondary to the story of his owner, Penny Chenery (Lane).
Chenery's story as written on the film version page, is a worthy one to tell, for sure. After suffering family bereavements, she stood firm after winning the horse on a coin toss to guide the horse to the greatest of American horse racing triumphs. This in a male dominated sport dominated by chauvinists. Further more, Chenery had to hold her own family together whilst running the Chenery ranch. Inspirational woman for sure, and Lane is naturally steely in the role, but there just isn't great human interest drama crafted by director Wallace to warrant the film being primarily about the good lady.
Naturally, when the horse racing takes centre stage it's gripping and exciting, the race segments very well filmed, but we already knew that Secretariat was an awesome horse, how he got to be that way isn't known to us. Malkovich plays trainer Lucien Laurin with moody flamboyance, but we see next to nothing of his training of the horse! It's one of the many oversights that stop the film competing with Seabiscuit. It may seem unfair to compare the two, but the makers of Seabiscuit got the blend right whilst cleaving close to the facts to tell their story.
There's also the controversy factor, the fudging of the facts to suit the makers ends, where some characterisations have been pointedly argued to be incorrect and a deviation from truths to the point we don't have the real story of what made Secretariat so great. Whilst it spins a rags to riches story when in reality it wasn't, Riva Ridge anyone? Where's the Preakness clocking controversy? These facts would have boosted the film no end, but I guess this is the price we pay for having Disney funding the film supposedly about the magnificent beast in the title.
Come the home straight the music does swirl and the cheers go loud, and undeniably the uplift factor takes a hand, but there's too much wrong all told to make this a great picture. I have to say it, go watch Seabiscuit instead. 6.5/10
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
When I got this DVD as a present, I was not thrilled. The initial press reviews I read were tepid or downright scathing. As a long time horse owner and rider (and generally horse crazy person) but not a fan of horse racing, I was familiar with the story of Secretariat and remember watching the live coverage of his Triple Crown races at the time, so my expectations for this DVD were low. To my surprise, I found myself getting fairly swept along by the movie and really enjoyed the pace and treatment of the horse racing action, and the characterization of the various main players. Diane Lane gave a fine performance while John Malkovich was brilliant and funny.
I agree with some of the criticism: even overlooking the many liberties they took with the real events, the movie is really all about Penny Chenery and her determination to see this special foal run and prove himself. She had many obstacles to overcome but too much is made of her "housewife" state, after all she was born and raised on a training farm.
Secretariat was truly a super-horse (his heart was twice the size of that of an average horse and some of his records still stand after 37 years) but neither his physical and mental gifts nor his unmatched dominance of the sport were sufficiently conveyed in this movie. Instead, his remarkable string of victories is presented more like a vaguely mystical journey with religious overtones. In fact, the coverage of the Belmont race is the weakest moment in the whole film, ludicrously interrupted by gospel music and shoddily re-enacted on a much smaller racecourse. It would have been much better to show the actual footage of the race which still stands as one of the greatest moments in any sport. Finally, the hippy daughter fabrication further detracted from the action, making Secretariat himself too much of a bit player.
Despite all of the above, my family enjoyed this movie so much that we have already watched it a second time and I suspect it will get further airings from time to time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 September 2011
Hi, I loved this movie, I saw it rated in our Woman's Day here in Australia. I really enjoyed watch it and I also brought one for my friend also I hope she love it to. I will watch it again it is that type of movie that you wouldn't get sick of watch it. LOVE IT.
on 20 September 2012
This great film [to me] is all about love triumphing; Penny's love for her Mom, Daddy, husband, four children, brother, her daddy's stables, and a horse named "Big Red" [Secretariat]. Her husband, her brother, and many of the racing fraternity seemed to be opposed to her. But ably helped by Lucian [the trainer],and Miss Ham [her daddy's secretary], [and not forgetting the horse and jockey!], she turns all their hearts, and the success of the stables, round: just through her love, her determination, "inheriting" her daddy's superior skill, knowledge and understanding of horses, and an amazing horse [Big Red].
I just love the character of Lucian: extrovert, lover of extraordinary hats and ties, and brave in the use of colour in his clothes, yet a great and soft heart and love for the horse, Penny, and the jockey.
Eddie, the Stable Lad, is another very endearing character. His love, understanding, and communication with Big Red, and love of Penny and her daddy are just beautiful.
Another endearing moment is the washing of Big Red with much joy, despite very testing circumstances at the time, and that lovely old song, and number 2 pop hit of 1969: Oh Happy Day", which we also hear much later on, in amazing victory.
There is some nail-biting footage of horse racing, and ultimately an unbeatable winner: "The greatest racehorse that ever lived".
A superb and lovely film, which I keep watching again and again.