What do you get when you cross one of the greatest horses who ever lived with Disney? Secretariat, the latest feel-good film to hit theaters.
I want to first say that I see a lot of movies, pretty much everything that hits theaters, barring horror flicks (they give me nightmares). But I don't want to review all the big movies in this space because we have such a bustling arts community here in Salt Lake that deserves my time and energy.
Secretariat, though, may go unnoticed, so I want to point it out, especially to those who love horses, exciting action scenes (yes, it's true), and of course those who have children. The film has gotten decent reviews, but not the praise received by The Town or The Social Network (both excellent, I saw them, too). In fact, I think Secretariat has been underserved.
Most criticize the film for focusing too much on Penny Tweedy, Secretariat's owner who not only supports his career, but saves her father's failing breeding farm. The negative reviewers felt the film should have focused more on the horse, his brio and journey.
Thing is, what's wrong with examining the people in the great horse's life a little more closely? Nothing. It's just the direction the film takes, so don't go in expecting 100% focus on the horse.
Another thing? Secretariat isn't exactly 100% accurate in certain portrayals. For starters, the great horse's nemesis, Sham was actually a very sweet, wonderful horse. He's not portrayed as a monster, but through his owner's characterization, is seen as the "enemy."
Second, the film took a few liberties with facts. For example, Eddie Sweat, Secretariat's dedicated caretaker and groom worked for Lucien Lauren (the horse's trainer) first, and not first for Penny Tweedy.
But those things aside, the film was super enjoyable! Not one moment lagged and the race scenes were especially spectacular. The audience literally gets a horseback view and there's nothing better than watching the world rush at you from between a horse's ears. You're right there in the action; track dirt flying in your face.
You'll also find yourself holding your breath or cheering along, even if you know the race's outcome.
Speaking of outcomes, here's the actual clip of Secretariat's earth-shattering win at the Belmont. (Note: His record time still holds, even 37 years later!) The movie did a good job of harnessing the excitement, in spite of what critics may have said.