Movie Review: Secretariat

Movie Review: Secretariat


PG for mild language.
Genre: Drama, history
Running Time: 1 hour 56 minutes

Based on the true story, Secretriat looks at the amazing journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner.

Housewife and mother Penny Tweedy agrees to take over her ailing father’s Virginia-based Meadow Stables. Against all odds, Chenery, with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin, she manages to make her way through the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time!

Along the way, Cheney also became known as
“The First Lady of Racing”.

First Lady of Racing

The odds were stacked against her, but Penny Chenery, played by Diane Lane, was determined to keep her fathers business alive. When Secretariat came along and started to take shape as a potential champion, Chenery found herself pressured to sell the farm after her father died and she was hit with a multi-million-dollar inheritance tax. But, she saved both the farm and the horse and watched as Secretariat became the first thoroughbred to win the Triple Crown in 25 years.

This is the story of that horse named Secretariat who won the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in dominating fashion.

Disney pretty much has the corner on the market for putting out based on true story type movies. However, that corner also means that much of what they do in this area is nothing more than a cookie-cutter-pattern of making true story movies. While we enjoyed Secretariat it does suffer slightly from been there done that syndrome when it comes to predictability.

Many know the story, but we must also remember it’s been 37 years since the incredible Secretariat won the Triple Crown in horse racing.

As a result, I believe the rather low box office turn out revolves around the fact that Disney may have missed their target audience on this one. When people think Disney they think children’s movies. However, the crowd for those who remember the incredible feat (and feet) of Secretariat are older. As a result, many parents with kids may not even know why this movie is important.

However, let it be known that Secretariat should not
be dismissed as a movie.

There are some rather slow spots in Secretariat as it clocks in at close to 2 hours. But, it not only chronicles the victories of this incredible horse well, it also fills in a lot of background material too. For me, that was the most fascinating part of this flick. Yes, I did find myself sitting on the edge of my seat during the race scenes – even though I already knew how they ended – but the background material was the hook for me.

When it comes to film technique, there are some rough edges along the way. But, there are also some spectacular outdoor scenes with horses standing in fields of fog – very breath-taking. The racing scenes, while  edgy, rough and bouncing, the technique adds to the effect of actually making you feel like you’re right on Secretariat during the race! This is most impressive as we find ourselves in the midst of a Hollywood fascination with 3D. Secretariat is NOT in 3D but the film technique for the races put you right on the horse.

It’s A Great Adrenaline Rush!

Overall, while Secretariat is slow at times, the race portions of the movie make up for the slowness by giving a great adrenaline rush. As a kid I rode horses some. But to feel like I was actually on Secretariat as he rode to history winning the Triple Crown made up for the slower portions of the movie.

When it comes to rating, we are calling Secretariat family-friendly for the PG rating it carries. However, this might be a hard sell to kids as they may not see the importance of the movie. But, if you’re looking for a way to teach your kids about some historical moments in the sport of horse racing, Secretariat will do just that for you.

Enjoy the show!
Dr. Rus

About the Author

Dr. Rus has 30+ years experience in the field of communication. He takes this experience, and his passion to encourage others to positively effect their environment, when providing insight and movie reviews.