User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 74 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 52 out of 74
  2. Negative: 6 out of 74
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  1. Nov 6, 2010
    4
    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 toA 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. Expand
  2. Oct 10, 2010
    4
    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. WhyThis 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 Expand
  3. Oct 15, 2010
    5
    A stab right in Virginia's heart! The first time we see the farm where this famous horse was born, there's a sign saying "Doswell, Virginia." The sad part is that our state lost the bid to shoot the movie here. As for the film itself, an even earlier screen says volumes: "Disney." That's right, this story of a great steed has been given then squeaky clean, cute and inspiring gloss of theA stab right in Virginia's heart! The first time we see the farm where this famous horse was born, there's a sign saying "Doswell, Virginia." The sad part is that our state lost the bid to shoot the movie here. As for the film itself, an even earlier screen says volumes: "Disney." That's right, this story of a great steed has been given then squeaky clean, cute and inspiring gloss of the family filmmakers. Dianne Lane plays the spunky woman who gambles on a promising steed and makes history. While everything about the film is competent (and the race scenes are strong), nothing about it is especially memorable or moving. It's pretty a much by-the-numbers bio-pic. Expand
  4. Oct 19, 2010
    5
    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.
  5. Oct 17, 2010
    5
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Horses all over the world, thoroughbreds and non-thoroughbreds alike, humiliated by the sight of an ostrich outrunning their own kind in Sam Peckinpah's "Ride the High Country", could stamp their hooves and snort with pride when ESPN's "Sportscentury: 100 Greatest Athletes of th 20th Century", placed Secretariat ahead of sixty-five humans, men and women, among them, such beloved luminaries as Mickey Mantle, Julius "Dr. J." Erving, Rocky Marciano, and Billy Jean King. Good for the horses, they wanted no part in Peckinpah's grand design to demystify the west, but sports fans, especially from the football sector, couldn't help but shake their heads at ESPN's decision to place Walter Payton(#37) a couple notches below the celebrated Triple Crown winner of 1973, as supporters of the former Chicago Bears running back were still reeling from the medical profession's inability to procure a liver for the Jackson State alumnus. Since the nine-time Pro Bowler and first ballot Hall of Famer could no longer run, figuratively speaking, it was as if the doctors played horse doctor and put "Sweetness" out to pasture until the time arrived for them to put him down. Payton died at the age of forty-five, that's fifteen in horse years, four years younger than "Big Red", who died in 1989, due to an incurable foot disease called laminitis. So for those who remember the list, and remember the debates as to whether animals are athletes, "Secretariat" is your litmus test: Does the film make a solid case for the American Thoroughbred racehorse's lofty position(eat it Man O'War, only #84) among the pantheon of athletic all-time greats? In my opinion: no. A racehorse, even one with the potential to be a champion, is only as good as its jockey; racehorses, in essence, are idiot savants, all they do is run real fast. Jockeys do their thinking for them. Secretariat's first rider relegates the thoroughbred to the boneyard of the also-rans(hello, Jello Manufacturing Plant!), the horses with potential. When Payton ran roughshod over opposing NFL team defenses, he did it without a little man strapped to his back; he did it by himself. Number "34" was no mount, like Charlie, the athlete in Carol Emschwiller's Phillip K. Dick award-winning novel "The Mount", who wants to be the fastest runner in the world. It's as if a horse wrote the book. Our world, the hypothetical horse writer would point out, is their dystopia. It's speculative fiction at its best, in which Emschwiller writes about enslaved mounts(read: horses) living under the totalitarian state mandated by the Hoots(read: humans), whose relationship with their captives is an unmistakable extrapolation of the peremptory servitude which horses are subjected to by their human keepers. Penny Chenery(Diane Ladd), Secretariat's owner, may come to the table with an inspiring story(a housewife who saves her father's farm by reaching the pinnacle of a "gentlemen only" sport), but she would be a Hoot in Emschwiller's line of thinking, as the congenial, but ambitious, maybe even ruthless, horse owner, willingly hires a jockey who once ran a horse so hard, he burst his heart. Through Charlie, the human animal, an athlete, clearly, meant to be taken in the horse racing vein, Emschwiller deconstructs the anthropomorphization of animals, in this case, horses, as Charlie, the horse-stand-in, possesses human attributes, because he is, indeed, human, an irony, since animals haven't evolved to the point of possessing human-like consciousnesses, such as the dolphins in Mike Nichols' "Day of the Dolphin". Horses don't care about being the fastest, like Charlie does, and that, for all intents and purposes, includes Secretariat, too. Horse racing aficionados simply don't see a thoroughbred's world as being dystopian, since they think it's only natural for an animal to run around a track. They buy into the fiction that a horse cares about winning, that Secretariat is posing, that the thoroughbred is self-aware of his pedigree and status as the pre-race odds-on favorite. Secretariat pees on a writer's shoes because the horse knows he's getting bad press. Horse racing aficionados believe this. In all likelihood, Secretariat was no different than Charlie, who wanted a never-ending supply of apples and a nice comfortable stall to sleep in. Horses don't watch ESPN. They don't turn on the television to watch their highlights. Expand
  6. Mar 7, 2011
    5
    I thought Diane Lane was so good in this film that her performance alone ALMOST pushed it into the recommended territory. However, it is SO predictable every step of the way that you can pinpoint everything that is going to happen. Believe me, you have seen this exact movie done many times, even with racehorses as the subject. This was a movie that didn't even need to be made.
  7. Nov 26, 2010
    6
    Predictable, yes, but there is a charm and devotion to this film. Camera work here is superb and gets you up close, and the detail keeps you watching. It's safe, but still fun.
  8. May 28, 2011
    6
    Secretariat proved to be a nice, average Disney feel-good movie. The viewer will find no surprises, but should be entertained if watched in the right mood.
  9. Nov 3, 2010
    5
    not the best horse racing movie i have seen. the only good parts are the actual racing seens. the story is good but hollywood didnt put enough into it.
  10. Aug 23, 2011
    5
    Although being a bit predictable and sometimes void and one-dimensional, Secretariat is entertaining in its essence. Just noticed it doesn't respect the real Secretariat story, which is a bit of a shame.
  11. Apr 14, 2013
    6
    Secretariat the movie starts off like the horse in a race; gets out of the gate slowly and holding back but as the race goes on, it builds to a exciting and memorable finish.
  12. Apr 14, 2013
    6
    A safe by the book Disney film that never seeks to be original or clever. However, its end result is a nice picture with and exciting ending to its credit. At the heart of this movie is Diane Lange, and she does quite a wonderful job.
  13. Dec 8, 2012
    6
    Very good film! Formulaic, but extremely well done. A good live-action film by Disney Pictures, they've had some stinkers, but this was is very good. Cheesy...perhaps a little dramatic and over-the-top, but the story was good and executed brilliantly. I liked the cast, particularly Diane Lane and John Malkovich...Lane's performance isn't Oscar worthy or anything, but she's such a stunningVery good film! Formulaic, but extremely well done. A good live-action film by Disney Pictures, they've had some stinkers, but this was is very good. Cheesy...perhaps a little dramatic and over-the-top, but the story was good and executed brilliantly. I liked the cast, particularly Diane Lane and John Malkovich...Lane's performance isn't Oscar worthy or anything, but she's such a stunning actress. She carries the film; she's wonderful as the lead character. John Malkovich also gives a good performance. I really liked him as the trainer, Lucien.

    Disney was wise to cast two key roles to great actors, it gives the film alot of worthy credibility.

    I recommend this film. Seabiscuit is probably a better example of a great horse-racing movie, but Secretariat is highly enjoyable and entertaining.
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Metascore
61

Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. 58
    The film ultimately feels like a well-trod journey to a familiar destination with not enough wonder along the way.
  2. 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.
  3. 88
    Grace is grace, and however it arrives, there's no denying its presence.