MOVIE: *** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
When Penny Tweedy’s father passed away and left her family the horse farm, everyone expected them to sell it off. However, Penny (Diane Lane) took the chance on raising a champion, and she successfully bred one of the most powerful race horses of all time. The stallion Secretariat took the racing world by storm as it aimed to win the Triple Crown in 1973.
WHAT I LIKED
The Walt Disney Company does a lot of things remarkably well. In addition to developing properties for tweens and teens, as well as cornering the market on children’s entertainment, Disney also makes great inspirational sports movies. Even when the film is about a sport that leaves me cold (like basketball with “Glory Days” or golf with “The Greatest Game Ever Played”), the Mouse House manages to push all the necessary buttons to at least make it entertaining and interest me for about two hours.
I’m not a fan of horse racing, but I did enjoy watching “Secretariat.” Of course, if you know anything about the history of the sport – or if you manage to do a web search and see the very first Wikipedia entry – you’ll know how the story ends. But like other well constructed films like “Apollo 13” and “Titanic,” it’s pretty neat to watch things unfold.
The performances hold “Secretariat” together, namely those of Diane Lane and John Malkovich, who has a pretty humorous role as the horse trainer. It’s not a stand-out movie necessarily for best of the year, but “Secretariat” is a safe, enjoyable movie that can be watched by yourself, on a date or at your mother’s house after Sunday dinner.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The biggest sticking point I had with “Secretariat” was that there are really no surprises. You either know the history, have heard how things end or can see the writing on the wall in the set-up of an inspirational sports movie.
Plus, the film does run a bit long, topping out just over two hours. These aren’t deal breakers, but they held the film back from being excellent.
The package comes with the Blu-ray and the DVD with limited features. Those features on both discs include three deleted scenes, a music video and the featurette “Heart of a Champion,” which looks at the life of Secretariat.
Features exclusive to the Blu-ray includes four additional deleted scenes, a multi-angle simulation of the actual 1973 Preakness win, audio commentary and two featurettes: “Choreographing the Races” and “A Director’s Inspiration: A Conversation with the Real Penny Chenery.”
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of the Disney inspirational sports movie.