I took my 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son to see “Secretariat,” and I’m glad I did.
The horse ran up his string of impressive victories when I was younger than my son. I grew up knowing the name, so the races at the end of “Secretariat” weren’t suspenseful.
But the kids?
They covered their eyes, then peeked through their fingers, hoping Big Red would win those final three races. Their enthusiasm definitely spilled over to me.
“Secretariat” is an old-school Disney movie, and the story has been sanitized for your enjoyment. The only thing close to a dirty joke comes from the horse, who expresses his “opinion” at an opportune moment.
Diane Lane stars as Penny Tweedy, a well-to-do housewife in Colorado, who comes home to her family’s horse barn in Virginia after her mother dies.
Her father (Scott Glenn) spends most of his time in a quiet haze of dementia, and it’s up to Penny to run the operation.
When Big Red is born, Penny sees a future champion, but all her husband (Dylan Walsh) and brother (Dylan Baker) see is a chance to make a quick buck while the horse farm is still worth something.
Penny hires a colorful trainer (John Malkovich), and Big Red becomes Secretariat, the legendary winner of horse racing’s Triple Crown.
Penny experiences bumps and setbacks along the way, but nothing compared to what could’ve happened with a different script.
I have a hard time believing Penny and her husband managed the separation as well in real life as they do in the movie. Other relationships come off as one-dimensional, too.
On the whole, it’s a family-friendly story about a woman who defies the odds in a male-dominated culture and helps her horse become a champion. As my daughter said, “Just because something hasn’t been done, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.”
I give “Secretariat” a B.
It’s showing at Malcos in Tupelo, Oxford, Corinth and Columbus, as well as Hollywood Premier Cinemas in Starkville.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson with Wizard 106.7 gives “Secretariat” an A. “It’s family-friendly fun for all.”
M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal