Secretariat

[3.5
stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Having exhausted most of the animated features in our queue, the Netflix algorithm has started sending us based-on-true-story movies.

The movie follows Penny Tweedy, played by Diane Lane. As the movie begins, she's seemingly a normal 60s Colorado housewife, with two daughters in high school, a loving husband, etc. But she's called back to her horse-breeding roots in Virginia when her mom dies, leaving her Alzheimer's-stricken father. The financial state is perilous. Nearly everyone wants her to sell the farm, but she demurs. Nearly everyone thinks she should butt out of the everyday business of the farm, but she keeps at it. And (unlike everyone else) she has an idea that the offspring of one of her mares might make a pretty good racehorse. Guess what?

The suspense is dimmed somewhat if you have even a dim knowledge of horse-racing history. And unfortunately, this against-all-odds inspirational story is saddled (heh) with dialogue that sounds as if it came out of a bag of cheap fortune cookies. ("This is not about going back. This is about life being ahead of you and you run at it! Because you never know how far you can run unless you run.")

But on the plus side: John Malkovich is in it. Also Fred Thompson, who I still wish was President. And Margo Martindale plays Penny's reliable assistant, Miss Ham; since I know her mainly from Justified, I kept expecting her to kill somebody, but no.


Last Modified 2012-09-26 5:15 AM EST