Disney sports drama about housewife and mother Penny Chenery (Diane Lane), who agrees to take over her ailing father's Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge.... More
Chenery and her Thoroughbred horse Secretariat – with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich) – manage to navigate the male-dominated business, fostering the first US Triple Crown winner in 25 years (the Crown consists of winning three races for three-year-old horses, and is considered the ultimate accomplishment for a Thoroughbred).Hide
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BY James Croot Flicks Writer
Despite dwindling attendances and diminishing totes on and off course, 2003’s Seabiscuit proved there was still a cinematic audience for all things equine. Sharing the same bloodline, or at least horse-wranglers, as that septu-Oscar-nominated epic, this horse-sports-opera boasts all the ingredients for a successful run. There’s plenty of soft-focus gamboling and galloping (and not just by a blonde-bewigged Lane at her feistiest), a scene-stealing, wardrobe-malfunctioning Malkovich, and a Jockey-cam and low-camera angles which add a new twist to the race action.
A cross between Phar Lap, Bonecrusher and Kiwi (given his propensity for coming from behind), Secretariat made the cover of Time and Newsweek and is believed by many Americans to be the greatest racehorse who ever lived. Throw in the fact that his owner was a sassy southern woman keen to take on the good ole boys and it’s easy to see the cinematic qualities of ‘Big Red’s’ story.
Unfortunately writer Rich and director Wallace clearly decided that wasn’t enough and, in tacking on an unnecessary political subplot (which suggests that, like Seabiscuit, Secretariat united a divided nation) and Christian overtones, they detract from what is a compelling rivalry with Sham and a riveting underdog tale (even if some of the based-on-fact drama is pure fiction).
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