Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. Secretariat was such a commanding presence, the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years, a Time magazine coverboy, the focus of the public's imagination during his pursuit, that any excuse to relive that excitement is worthwhile, and Secretariat gives us one.
  2. A conventional story, conventionally told.
  3. 88
    Grace is grace, and however it arrives, there's no denying its presence.
  4. Particularly impressive is veteran cinematographer Dean Semler's inventive cinematography that manages to put the audience right in the middle of the races like never before.
  5. The period details are so exact they're occasionally distracting, the use of gospel music at the end is questionable, and director Randall Wallace (We Were Soldiers) shows a surer hand in the track sequences than the domestic scenes. Still, there's no denying this movie has heart.
  6. 100
    It is a great film about greatness, the story of the horse and the no less brave woman who had faith in him.
  7. Secretariat isn't bad but it's precisely what you'd expect.
  8. Disney studios, director Randall Wallace, and his screenwriter Mike Rich, obviously targeting a "faith-based" audience à la "The Blind Side," lard the soundtrack with "Oh Happy Day" and readings from the Book of Job.
  9. This pleasantly rote movie will rouse you.
  10. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    At least the formulaic race footage itself is vigorous; the schmaltzy mythmaking script, on the other hand, deserves a one-way trip to the glue factory.
  11. Secretariat shows no fear of the sentimental, and that's putting it mildly. This is an old-fashioned, super-genteel family movie that opens with an equine quote from the Book of Job and makes ample use of the Edwin Hawkins Singers' gospel song "Oh Happy Day."
  12. 80
    What you DO get with Secretariat is a picture that, unlike its bland predecessor Seabiscuit, actually captures some of the thrill of racing.
  13. A reasonably well-made biopic, with crowd-pleasing moments, but one that -- despite that title -- isn't really about the animal.
  14. Wallace layers on some era-specific meaning to Chenery, who seems to be simply following her lineage, thanks to Lane's quietly dignified performance. Malkovich is more fun, though Laurin isn't as outrageous as the movie thinks he is.
  15. 75
    This is one terrific movie about one terrific horse. It enthralls on so many levels-emotional, cinematic, historic.
  16. 63
    Secretariat ultimately delivers where it matters, in the home stretch.
  17. 50
    A well-acted tale of an underdog's triumph that sorely lacks an underdog, it teeters between pleasantly generic film biography and rank manipulation.
  18. The result, if occasionally forced, is also irresistible.
  19. It's all mildly uplifting in the way of an unchallenging sermon.
  20. 63
    The story as a whole seems stale and overly familiar.
  21. 63
    If it's hip to be square, then this racehorse movie is the ultimate in cornball cool.
  22. 60
    I enjoyed it immensely, flat-footed dialogue and implausible situations and all. Which doesn't stop me from believing that in its totality Secretariat is a work of creepy, half-hilarious master-race propaganda almost worthy of Leni Riefenstahl, and all the more effective because it presents as a family-friendly yarn about a nice lady and her horse.
  23. In Secretariat, the fictionalized bits are simple exaggerations - broad, Disneyish adjustments in races and other realities.
  24. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Secretariat is a by-the-numbers sports-hero picture with an inexpressive hero (horses look great in motion, but they can't carry a close-up) and a preordained outcome.
  25. Only a heartfelt performance by Diane Lane rescues the film from abject mediocrity.
  26. 58
    It's Lane who's saddled with dragging this nag over the finish line, with her cliched portrayal of another single-minded woman beating men at their own game.
  27. 58
    The film ultimately feels like a well-trod journey to a familiar destination with not enough wonder along the way.
  28. When the movie climactically reproduces that exhilarating Belmont, the fiction is just a pale shadow of the fact, and the realized myth that lives in our memory dies on the screen.
  29. An engaging sports movie about the greatest racehorse ever and his female owner who literally bets the farm on his supremacy.
  30. The bigger and truer stars of this enjoyable, sometimes accidentally entertaining movie are the five horses that take turns playing Secretariat.
  31. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    This isn't a passionate, showy part, but it's a finely drawn performance, worthy of a veteran actress (Lane) who started her career as Secretariat did in the 1970s (in A Little Romance) and has since earned a champion status of her own.
  32. Lane, experiencing her career heyday, is sweet enough to have you rooting for her, even if her journey to the winner's circle is an odds-on favorite.
  33. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    The true story of the recordbreaking Secretariat is pretty stupendous as is. It didn't need schmaltzing up.
  34. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Conventional but rousingly effective picture.
  35. Secretariat stumbles along beneath the weight of leaden life lessons. They're dispensed at frequent intervals by Diane Lane, who does better than anyone had a right to expect, since she is saddled with dialogue of exceptional dreadfulness.
  36. 75
    It's tough to guess who will enjoy Secretariat more -- filmgoers who remember the extraordinary events of 1973, when the chestnut 3-year-old won the first Triple Crown in 25 years, or those for whom the story is brand-new.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 70 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 24
  2. Negative: 3 out of 24
  1. Oct 10, 2010
    This could have been a great movie if not for Hollywood turning Secretariat the horse into a full blown version of Rocky. Poncho Martin trainer of Sham, Secretariat's arch rival "Secretariat is going down". Folks it never happened. Secretariat was the BEST racehorse that ever peered thru a brial. His accomplishments are virtually unmatched by any horse present, past or future. Why Hollywood filmed the Belmont Stakes at Keeneland and show horses racing on poly turf not dirt is beyond me. For anyone to think that any horsemen would start a fire in a wastepaper basket in a barn surrounded by hay, or that the trainer would say he was afraid to hold the horse as he is out to get him is pure Hollywood. And do you think any trainer would hand a multi million dollar thoroughbred to an owner to give a sponge bath? Basically this is a good family movie in which the outcome is known from the moment the movie starts. John Malkovich portrays a Hall of Fame trainer in Lucien Laurin and plays him as a joker for comic relief. Lucien was a great trainer and is nothing like that. As for Diane Lane she is always lovely to look at. She does her best to portray Secretariat's owner who took on a male dominated sport. What the movie fails to show is the price she had to pay with her family to achieve success. But then again this is a Disney movie and only Happy Endings are approved. My recommendation is that if you are unfamiliar with Secretariat you can feel comfortable in taking the family to see it. But if you are a true horse lover or horsemen you are going to be very disappointed. Secretariat the horse is just a supporting character in a movie that should have been about him.â Full Review »
  2. Nov 6, 2010
    A little too squeaky clean. If you've ever worked with horses, you know that horse barns smell, that there is often mud and worse, and that there are flies and bugs. If horse racing were as pristine as presented, it just wouldn't be the same. Much of the dialogue of this movie is contrived and artificial. I also didn't buy into the idea of the millionaire woman having to struggle to save the farm. There was actually very little to create much dramatic tension in this movie, and Diane Lane seemed rather stiff in her role. The Secretariat I remember was a bigger horse than the horse in the movie. There was something almost monstrous about him. The horse in this movie is Disneyfied down to a pretty thing. At one point they show some hippies, and even they are clean and odor-free. The best thing about the movie is a quote from the Book of Job about the pure god-made monstrous energy of the horse, but the movie fails to present us with anything like this energy. Full Review »
  3. Oct 19, 2010
    Far inferior to last decade's "Seabiscuit," but sure to be a crowd-pleaser, this is a very generic film about a remarkable horse and owner. Diane Lane does not command the screen like Sandra Bullock in last year's similarly-themed "The Blind Side," and the dialogue is laughably bad at times. Full Review »