Tuesday, October 12, 2010


There's a perfect word to describe a movie like Secretariat: Capracorn.

Frank Capra was known for making happy-go-lucky, all's well that ends well, tales that, late in his career, began to be deemed "corny" by critics.

Capracorn. A movie that, while not notably impressive, will be suitable for the whole family, and leave you with a feel-good mentality.

That's Secretariat, through and through. The movie, a true story that chronicles the great horse's victory of the Triple Crown, and the struggles of his owner Penny (Diane Lane) to get him there, is a wondrous family film that will have you cheering at the screen and brimming with joy.

Problem is, you have to be into that sort of thing.

There are a few genres of film that I choose not to critique. For the most part, I get nothing out of animated films. Sure there may be one standout a year, but I can usually predict, to the minute, what will happen in a cartoon movie. Same goes for chick flicks and horror films. And the same, as is the case here, goes for live-action family films.

Most movies released under these genres make a decent amount of money. Why? Because most movie goers want what they've already seen 50 times. And that's fine. You are the ones that feed the Hollywood system and make it a success. And without that money-grubbing system, there would be no way to independently finance smaller films. So, thanks.

Anyway. If you're moved by it's trailer, you're going to like Secretariat. No question. You'll enjoy (or not even notice) the cheesy, I-feel-another-speech-coming-on dialogue. The battlefield music the reveals how a scene will end as it's just beginning. The period costumes that look oddly dated.  In short, you'll love the sentimentality of it all.

Diane Lane has proven that she's a talented actress. But her performance, much like the rest of the film, doesn't make the slightest attempt to challenge her. Everything is done by-the-book with formulaic generality. Think Seabiscuit meets The Blind Side. (Which, for my money, isn't saying much.)

I don't have children and I'm not a grandparent, but I can imagine it is nice to be able to go to a movie theatre with your entire family and all be able to enjoy (some more than others) a film together.

There's nothing inherently wrong with Secretariat. Just like there's nothing wrong with Life As We Know It, or I Spit On Your Grave. But, you know, you have to be into that sort of thing.

Which I'm not. What can I say? I'm not here to agree with you. D+


  1. There's more emotion and plot in the actual footage of the races than in this. The 1973 Belmont is one of the most amazing sports moments I've seen.

    1. Exactly. They just didn't capture it well here. Too much damn sentimentality.