Housewife and mother Penny Chenery agrees to take over her ailing father's Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge. Against all odds, Chenery -- with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin -- manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in twenty-five years. Written by
Greetings again from the darkness. The story of Secretariat is legendary in the world of thoroughbred racing. Being a sports fan, it is always fascinating to witness domination by a singular athlete - Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Roger Federer. Secretariat was the Michael Jordan of racing. In 1973, Big Red dominated racing like no other.
What makes this even more amazing is that Secretariat is actually the second most interesting story ... his owner, Penny Chenery Tweedy (played here by Diane Lane), was his match in competitive spirit. This Disney movie actually spends as much time on Ms. Tweedy as it does the fabulous horse.
Disney does what Disney does best. This is an all out feel-good, rah-rah movie in the vein of "Seabiscuit", "The Rookie", "Rudy" and even "Hoosiers". Don't expect in-depth analysis of the racing world or horse training or even horse farm operations. This movie is made to deliver a warm fuzzy via the perseverance of a strong-willed lady and an incredibly majestic animal.
Expect some over-the-top touches such as John Malkovich's portrayal of trainer Lucen Laurin, horse-whispering by Ms. Lane, and plenty of heart-string tugging as is customary from the fine folks at Disney. Expect historical facts to be treated a bit lax in some scenes (no mention of 1972 Derby winner Riva Ridge, also from the Chenery stables). Expect none of that to matter as this is a crowd-pleaser, not a documentary.
In addition to Mr. Malkovich and Ms. Lane, there is some fine support work from Fred Thompson, James Cromwell and Nelsan Ellis (so great as Lafayette in True Blood). Directed by Randall Wallace, whose most recent directorial effort was 2002's "We Were Soldiers", this is entertainment for all ages and an easy introduction to the champion that was Secretariat.
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