MPAA Rated – PG
It’s 2:03 Long
A Review by:
The Dude on the Right

Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich
MPAA Rated: PG
Released By: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
Kiddie Movie: Not too young, it’s kind of drama-driven with cool horse scenes.
Date Movie: It’s a nice story for both of you.
Gratuitous Sex: Nope.
Gratuitous Violence: Nope.
Action: The horse racing scenes are fantastic, even if you do already know the outcome.
Laughs: John Malkovich is a hoot.
Memorable Scene: Penny getting all “horse whisperer” with Secretariat.
Memorable Quote: Nothing totally stands out.
Directed By: Randall Wallace
Cool Things about the Blu-ray?: I actually liked one of the deleted scenes for a change, the interview with Penny Chenery makes you just want to stop by and have tea with her, and the technical stuff was cool. You also get the audio commentary and a detailed look at Secretariat the horse, not the movie.

I remember when “Secretariat” was coming to the theaters. I saw the trailer and in my head simply said, “Didn’t I already see this story before, with ‘Seabiscuit?’” I mean, that was a movie about a horse, how different could this be?

Boy, was I wrong.

Whereas “Seabiscuit” was a movie about a horse that also had Tobey Maguire in it, “Secretariat” is a movie about a strong women, Penny Chenery, that also has a horse in it, and had I known that, I might have actually gone to see the movie in the theater, because really, all I thought from the commercials was that I was going to see a movie about a horse, and that’s too bad. Luckily I caught the Blu-ray because yup, “Secretariat” is just as good as “Seabiscuit,” just in a different way.

In a nutshell, the story of Secretariat is one about a woman, Penny Chenery, played in the movie by the stunning and super-talented Diane Lane. As the movie opens we learn of how Penny is being called to the family horse farm as her father has taken ill and things are in peril, namely they might lose the farm. Penny is married at the time, with a few kids and a loving husband, but this is the late 1960’s/early 1970’s, and women aren’t supposed to be the owners/managers of the horses, nope, they’re supposed to be there, supporting their man. But Penny is strong and sees her calling, and in this calling comes a horse, a racehorse with the potential to accomplish the rare feat, winning horse racing Triple Crown.

So, leaving her family behind, Penny works the horse farm, but she also needs some help if Secretariat is to become a champion, and she finds that help in the quirky horse trainer Lucien Laurin, played funningly by John Malkovich.

And so, as the movie goes, we know the outcome, that Secretariat will win, but in the course we see how Penny overcomes the challenges of being a women in a man’s sport, of being away from her children who are growing up in the peace and love movement, and in believing in herself, and Secretariat, so much, that she is willing to risk everything for the family legacy she believes in.

As a movie “Secretariat” is great. It looks beautiful, the horse racing scenes are phenomenal, Diane Lane, John Malkovich, and the rest of the cast is great, and the story is truly one of inspiration, especially for women. But, and I give this only as a word of subtle warning, for me “Secretariat” plays more like a drama than a fun-filled family movie so I’m worried if the little one will be able to stick with it. It is only rated PG, so it’s safe for them, but not having kids, I wasn’t able to test it.

So, it does look good, the story is great, and in the end, as a full-blown movie I’ve got to give “Secretariat” 4 stars, but as a drama there are some slow parts, some deep parts, which might not really be what you are expecting. But then again, I was expecting another “Seabiscuit” and got something different, so go ahead and get this one, and watch it on your big screen in all of its Blu-ray glory!

As far as extras, I have to say that “Secretariat” isn’t overloaded with tons of stuff you probably won’t watch, but there are a couple of things I liked. Yup, there’s the standard audio commentary by the Director, Randall Wallace, but as much as I liked the movie, I really didn’t want to spend another two hours for any director insight. Instead I did watch the Deleted Scenes, and actually thought the directors Alternate Opening was better than the movie opening, but then the rest of the deleted scenes were, like normal, better off deleted. I did like the “Choreographing the Races,” because, well, technical stuff always gets me some how, but the extra I really liked, almost surprisingly to me, was the “A Director’s Inspiration: A Conversation With The Real Penny Chenery.” It was fascinating hearing her take on the movie, how some things were slightly different, and how some parts of her life, or changes to some scenes, she actually wishes might have made the film. She just seems like a fun lady to hang out with, and it showed in the interview. And, if you want to learn more about Secretariat, the Heart of A Champion bonus will help you out.

All in all I liked “Secretariat” the movie, actually liked some of the bonus features, so in the Blu-ray world, I say go ahead and watch a great story about a strong woman. And, oh yea, there’s a horse mixed into the movie, too.