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SECRETARIAT, 2010
Movie Reviews!


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SECRETARIAT, 2010 MOVIESECRETARIAT, 2010
Movie Reviews

Directed by Randall Wallace

Cast: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Scott Glenn, James Cromwell, Dylan Walsh, Fred Dalton Thompson, Kevin Connolly

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Review by Matthew Toffolo

SYNOPSIS:

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.

Release Date: 8 October 2010

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REVIEW:

Like many, I'm a sucker for these Disney sports movies. You know those movies: The true life tale of a bunch of college hockey kids taking on the Russian professionals in the Olympics and by true miracle beating them, in MIRACLE (2004)! The true life tale of a blue color working Philadelphian who tries out for the NFL Eagles and by true miracle makes the team in INVISIBLE (2006)! Or the true life tale of a 34-year old high school baseball coach who tries out for the MLB Devil Rays (now just the Rays) and by true miracle also makes the the team, in THE ROOKIE (2002).

This is the movie of the true tale of a Denver house wife who grooms a horse and (you know what's coming) by true miracle that horse becomes not only a Triple Crown winner but also considered the greatest horse of all-time. Now to complete the series, the producer team of all of those movies needs to make a miracle basketball movie. How about a young man raised in the Cleveland suburbs getting tired of that area and taking "his talents" to south beach Miami to play for other great players in LEBRON (2014)! Or maybe not. But basketball definitely needs to find themselves their own miracle story.

I have to admit that I cried in every single one of those movies. There's something about using sports as a metaphor for people getting the best out of themselves in a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual way. The difference between Secretariat and those other movies is two things: 1) The main character is a woman. and 2) The main character really isn't the one who's really a part of the action. She was just the owner and never really took part in any action. Penny Chenery (played by Diane Lane, who might do what Sandra Bullock did in last year's The Blind Side and take home her first Oscar) was the driving force in the success of his horse, but Secretariat and his jockey are the ones to did have to complete.

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I always wondered why they never make the actual horse more of a main character in these movies. There are going to be parallels with this film and Seabiscuit (2003), but the horses never really do anything but race.

I'm not saying that they should have a talking Secretariat (a movie I would definitely go see though!), but horses always have the most interesting eyes and they could go into the psychology of why they are champions and why others are not. What makes two horses that look the same, eat the same, and sleep the same, different?

Are horse like humans and there's just that something that's inside those special ones who are able to compete in the biggest of situations? Or are they products of their environment and it's their mentors (trainers) who guide them into being special? What is it really?

They could of really gotten more into this because one of the main plots is how they sold the sperm of Secretariat for an outrageous price in order for them to keep going. All Disney sports movies have that half-way plot conflict where there's a big obstacle and they might not be able to continue in. In the case of Secretariat, it's the foreclosure of their farm and how they might need to sell their horse in order to not go bankrupt. So instead of selling the horse, they sell it's prized sperm (even though the actual word of "sperm" is never uttered being this is a Disney film). In all, we hear that Secretariat was the father to over 600 horses, something all the bigamist males out there are very jealous of.

Out of the big 4 Disney sports films, this is my least favorite and there are two reasons why:

1) The filming of the sporting contests. Miracle, Invisible and The Rookie each had original direction and choreography when filming their particular sports. They showed us their sports in original points of view. Secretariat does nothing of the sort. Watch the movie Seabiscuit and then watch this film. Seabiscuit takes you into the world of the jockey while he battles with the other jockey's and horses, showing us amazing camera angles and points of view. Secretariat might as well of showed us the actual original TV broadcast (and they did in the Preakness race) as we see nothing new. Therefore, psychologically, we lose that emotional connection we needed from both the jockey and the horse. We never get to know their world and showing a woman and her trainer in the stands cheering them on aren't the most exciting images to watch.

2) Rule #1 in any sport: There's no cheering in the pressbox. In Secretariat they actually gave us moments of all of the reporters cheering on the race. And this is a complete insult to all of the reporters and journalist out there in the world. You can't be a journalist while also cheering on a horse at the same time! Don't they know this?

This really bothered me as they missed a really important emotional subplot that this film needed. As we followed the journey of the owner and the trainers from the birth of the horse to its Triple Crown win, the filmmakers missed giving us the world point of view of these events. What was the heartbeat of America when this happened? What were the reporters actually writing about? (and they weren't cheering in the press box, that's for sure)

I know Disney didn't want to go political as 1973 was definitely a polarizing time. But they didn't need to even go there but just tell us how the nation was reacting to this horse and nothing more. And we the audience could just fill in the blanks of the true definition.


All in all, this film is too paint by numbers. And it really pisses me off because they missed a great opportunity to give the 2010 audience members a great female role model who stuck to her guns because it was the right thing. She was a true artist who didn't need to judge anything or anyone and just tried to get the best out of herself and nothing more. Something the female population definitely needs today. And the reader can just fill in the blanks to who I'm referencing.

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