Directed by: Randall Wallace
Premise: Set in the early 1970s, housewife Penny Chenery Tweedy (Diane Lane) enters a horse in the racing circuit in an attempt to win the Triple Crown and save her family farm.
What Works: Secretariat is a fun film that follows the sports story mold and those who enjoy that kind of film will probably enjoy this one as well. Diane Lane is feisty but earnest in her portrayal of Penny Chenery Tweedy and she successfully carries the movie. John Malkovich stars in a supporting role as trainer Lucien Laurin and Malkovich brings a lot of humor to the film. The relationship between Tweedy and her husband, played by Dylan Walsh, also gives the film a bit of weight as his sense of normal is disrupted by his wife’s new job responsibilities.
What Doesn’t: Secretariat is very trite with the characters every so often breaking into speeches about determination and will. The problem is that for this kind of movie to really work it has to balance the mission statements with displays of actual work ethic and force the characters to make decisions that will cause them to suffer financial, physical, or social sacrifices in order to achieve their dreams. Secretariat does not do any of that, which robs the races of dramatic weight. The film attempts to connect the horse race with the anti-Vietnam War movement via a subplot involving Tweedy’s daughter, but there just isn’t any connection between these two historical events.
Bottom Line: Secretariat is satisfying as an average sports film. There isn’t much more to it than that and it is a predictable movie but for those who like this kind of film, Secretariat works.
Episode: N/A (October 22, 2010)