by Marcus at the Movies
9:17 PM AKDT, October 14, 2010
Marcus trotted off to the theater this week to see “Secretariat.” Disney's PG-rated movie about the legendary race horse stars Diane Lane and John Malkovich.
“In frenzied excitement, he eats up the ground. He paws fiercely, rejoicing in his strength and charges into the fray when the trumpet sounds.”
As a horse, Secretariat was a stud in every sense of the word -- but as a movie, “Secretariat” is no “Seabiscuit.” Although it's a quality family film, the acting is harnessed, and the movie's track is needlessly lengthened.
The true story of arguably the greatest race horse in history doesn't get the galloping glory it deserves because of the film's slow and weak approach, using a superfluous human angle based on Lane.
She's Penny, daughter of a famous horse owner, who dies leaving the estate worthless because of a $6 million estate tax bill. Much to the chagrin of her brother and husband, she chooses to run the prize horse rather than to sell him. She's convinced she has a Triple Crown winner and tries to get another owner, played by James Cromwell, to invest.
“Hasn't been done in 25 years.”
“That's exactly what I'm saying. Eight million.”
Not only does he invest, but he gets others as well. The biggest hurdle is the final leg at Belmont. Secretariat, whose real name is Big Red, is built for speed, not stamina -- and the track at Belmont is much longer. Can the horse's heart hold out of the gate with lightning all the way to the finish line? A competitor thinks not.
“Sham broke the derby record too. He ran the second-fastest derby, he ran the second-fastest Preakness -- ever.”
“Any comments, Beth?”
“Well, I have to agree with Mr. Martin: his horse did run the second-fastest ever.”
She's not afraid to barge into a gentlemen-only club to talk a little Kentucky horse business.
“I need a good trainer, just to get things stabilized.”
It’s horse humor: stabilized? It’s a good note on which to introduce the film’s most colorful character besides Big Red: the trainer, played by Malkovich. His terrible golf game drives him out of retirement, so he can buy more hats.
“How much did you spend on that hat?”
Hats off to Disney for a good movie about a super horse. I give it two and a half saddle horns.
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