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Movie Review: Secretariat

By Lori

Secretariat in the winner's circle after the Kentucky Derby

Secretariat in the winner's circle after the Kentucky Derby. A still from the new Disney movie to be released on October 8.

© Walt Disney Pictures
Lori, a racing fan and one of our readers from Cleveland, attended an advance preview screening of the new Secretariat movie on September 7, 2010, and kindly wrote this review to share with everyone. The movie will be officially released on October 8 at theaters nationwide.

Disney, Randall Wallace, and Mike Rich's "Secretariat" is patented motion picture entertainment about the very best in Thoroughbred racing history - Secretariat! This movie does not include too much, nor does it portray too little of Secretariat's story, a balance that had me watching easily, comfortably, and very, very excitedly.

The casting was perfect. As expected, Diane Lane was quintessential Penny Tweedy: intelligent, trim, well-dressed, fiercely willed, a devoted daughter and loving mother determined to keep the Meadow afloat. John Malkovich is surprising as the cherubically nervous Lucien Laurin, until you give in to Malkovich being Malkovich! Turcotte is astride once again with Otto Thorwarth playing the rider already on champion Riva Ridge at the time of Secretariat's first win. Margo Martindale's Elizabeth Ham is for real as the glue that held post-Chenery Meadow together. Scott Glenn and James Cromwell (Babe) lend fine presence to their characters' infamous ones - Ogden Phipps Sr. and Jr.; and Drew Roy's Seth Hancock looks all of the 23 years he was at the time of his becoming manager of Claiborne Farm. As for Eddie Sweat, his portrayer Nelsan Ellis is as his twin, such is the resemblance to the South Carolina native! Kevin Connolly's Bill Nack is not the Nack-in-love we know until the story develops later on - and then you can see it in his eyes!

The story unfolds from the death of Penny's parents, to her accelerated learning of the thoroughbred industry, to her taking on the management of The Meadow, while simultaneously struggling to be the wife and mother she knows her family deserves. And then - The Horse! Secretariat is as gloriously bona fide a picture of horseflesh on this big screen as any of us could have hoped for. The close-ups capture his spectacular, expressive face often, which I did not expect after reading the movie was not so much about the horse as about his connections. Not true! From his two-year-old Horse of the Year season until retirement, the screen is ablaze with Big Red - his glistening eyes, his infamous blue-checkered face, his thunderous (and I do mean thunderous) breaks from the gate, his battling the brave and dauntless Sham, his lightning-swift Triple Crown moves.... treated you will be to Secretariat's Belmont call, and in 2010 living color! Fans will be in awe, all over again, for the umpteenth time - I guarantee it!

Once having seen this film, you will agree it is not to be missed by any Secretariat fan let alone any serious horse racing fan. Secretariat's legend is truly honored and represented by this picture!

You can view the trailer for the movie here.

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