User Score
6.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 73 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 51 out of 73
  2. Negative: 6 out of 73

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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. Oct 8, 2010
    7
    Throughout watching Secretariat, you know exactly what the film is trying to do: it so openly wants you to be moved and inspired, and the melodrama just oozes of the screen. However, that desperate need for emotion doesn't ruin the film, it actually works out in it's favor: it works. The performances are good enough, Lane is capable in a "Blind Side" Sandra Bullock type of "strong" womanThroughout watching Secretariat, you know exactly what the film is trying to do: it so openly wants you to be moved and inspired, and the melodrama just oozes of the screen. However, that desperate need for emotion doesn't ruin the film, it actually works out in it's favor: it works. The performances are good enough, Lane is capable in a "Blind Side" Sandra Bullock type of "strong" woman role, and Malkovich gives a hilarious performances as the horse's trainer. It's a film that some will be moved by, and some just won't feel much of anything during. And that's okay. I implore you: don't go into it actively trying not to feel anything, but rather just be open and receptive to anything that may happen. You might find yourself surprised. Expand
  4. 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. Collapse
  5. DVR
    Oct 10, 2010
    8
    I liked the movie but was very interested in fantasy's review. Sounds like you were there. The movie piqued my interest in Secretariat. I saw John Maklovich on Charlie Rose and he said that Secretariat had a heart double the size of a normal horse.. Fascinating. So for a movie to get you thinking, it was good. Disappointing that it was not more truthful of the events surrounding thisI liked the movie but was very interested in fantasy's review. Sounds like you were there. The movie piqued my interest in Secretariat. I saw John Maklovich on Charlie Rose and he said that Secretariat had a heart double the size of a normal horse.. Fascinating. So for a movie to get you thinking, it was good. Disappointing that it was not more truthful of the events surrounding this great horse. Expand
  6. 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.
  7. Oct 12, 2010
    8
    Very nice horse movie - incredible how the director was able to build excitement even though we already knew the outcome of the races. Diane Lane's performance is close to brilliant as the smart, tough Ms. Chenery.

    A few quibbles, of course. The Belmont portion should have focused more on the race - it's probably the single most exciting event in sports history and I thought all the
    Very nice horse movie - incredible how the director was able to build excitement even though we already knew the outcome of the races. Diane Lane's performance is close to brilliant as the smart, tough Ms. Chenery.

    A few quibbles, of course. The Belmont portion should have focused more on the race - it's probably the single most exciting event in sports history and I thought all the cutaways to the stands dispelled some of the excitement. Also, the absence of Riva Ridge was notable, and some geographical blunders (Ms. Chenery apparently has the ability to teleport from her farm in Virginia to the **** farm in Kentucky).

    But the quibbles are fairly minor. In its favor, I was surprised that the film actually did show the price Penny Chenery paid in the distance from her family. In real life, choices have costs, and although the movie did not completely explore that, the fact that it spent so much time on it was quite courageous.

    For anyone who enjoys a good horse movie, I highly recommend it. It's better than 'Seabiscuit', IMHO, although perhaps not as good cinematically as 'The Black Stallion', but it's better in characterization than that film.
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  8. May 31, 2011
    7
    Full disclosure: I met Secretariat, standing at stud at Claiborne Farm outside Paris, Kentucky, in 1974. Let me tell you, that Red was one very impressive horse. He bolted across the pasture to where we stood at the rail and tried to bite my wife's, um, well, let's not go into anatomical detail. But alas, Big Red was more impressive than the movie about him. Alas, I couldn't help comparingFull disclosure: I met Secretariat, standing at stud at Claiborne Farm outside Paris, Kentucky, in 1974. Let me tell you, that Red was one very impressive horse. He bolted across the pasture to where we stood at the rail and tried to bite my wife's, um, well, let's not go into anatomical detail. But alas, Big Red was more impressive than the movie about him. Alas, I couldn't help comparing it (the film) with Seabiscuit (the film), and it doesn't nearly shine like that one did. Also I kept seeing Diane Lane as little Liz Taylor all growed up and dealing with a horse a whole lot more memorable than National Velvet. Plucky owner, plucky horse. Still, the film has its moments. I still remember seeing the Belmont live on TV in '73 and being absolutely blown away by Secretariat's unprecedented performance, so this flick made that experience come alive for me again. Kudos to John Malkovich and Margo Martindale (lately of TV's "Justified" fame) for entertaining supporting roles. I don't know how many nags played the role of Secretariat but frankly they just didn't quite do him justice. He was one awesome dude! Expand
  9. 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
  10. Feb 12, 2011
    10
    This movie is surprisingly good. The horse race scenes are the best to date in terms of visuals, sounds, and camera angles. This movie puts SeaBiscuit to shame. Secretariat was a great horse. But Man-of-war was also a great horse. The race between War Admiral and Secretariat was awesome. The movie focuses on the owner and her struggles which was played wonderfully by Diane Lane. TheThis movie is surprisingly good. The horse race scenes are the best to date in terms of visuals, sounds, and camera angles. This movie puts SeaBiscuit to shame. Secretariat was a great horse. But Man-of-war was also a great horse. The race between War Admiral and Secretariat was awesome. The movie focuses on the owner and her struggles which was played wonderfully by Diane Lane. The actor over all is great. But the Horse was simply beautiful. If you are a fan of horses and horse racing, I do not see any way you should not see this movie. Expand
  11. 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.
  12. Nov 15, 2010
    2
    There is very little to recommend about this film unless you're kind of bummed out and tired and want something to perk you up which requires not mental effort. There are better "feel good" movies out there and there are better "mindless entertainment" movies out there but there are perhaps few that succeed on both these levels as Secretariat does. Highlights: every scene with the horse.There is very little to recommend about this film unless you're kind of bummed out and tired and want something to perk you up which requires not mental effort. There are better "feel good" movies out there and there are better "mindless entertainment" movies out there but there are perhaps few that succeed on both these levels as Secretariat does. Highlights: every scene with the horse. Lowpoints: the cheesy and one-dimensional depiction of the early 70's. Expand
  13. Oct 11, 2010
    3
    Correction: Sorry, big mistake, Riva won the Derby and Belmont. Had it not been for poor track conditions for the Preakness, Mrs. Tweedy and Mr. Lucien might well have had back to back triple crown winners.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Jan 10, 2011
    1
    There are far better horse movies to be seen than this. This is a watered down Disney flick that lacks any grit or conflict. A horse from known winning blood lines, owned by rich people that wins virtually all his races. So? If you want to see an excellent horse movie, watch Phar Lap or The Black Stallion.
  17. Feb 11, 2011
    7
    If you liked seabiscuit you will like this. An old fashioned movie with a good performance by Diane Lane. Nice background history for those who never heard of secretariat and why he merits a movie
  18. Feb 22, 2011
    8
    Secretariat is a beautifully shot film, both on and off the track, with careful thought given to the people behind this incredible animal. Though it doesn't stray too far from a family drama formula, with humor and social tension feeling a bit generic and familiar, it still manages to be quite touching and convincing throughout its telling, especially in its final act.
  19. 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.
  20. RJV
    Oct 8, 2011
    8
    This was actually pretty good, and a lot better than I thought it would be when we rented it, if you're looking for a good movie to watch with dinner and don't want one of those movies where they're all fight scenes, I would recommend it, not bad, not bad at all.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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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  25. Apr 26, 2014
    10
    This movie remains true to the story, it is a good movie for all horse lovers. Looking back on this horses life through the movie is extraordinary. This movie is also a family friendly movie, you do not have to worry about what your kids might hear or see. Also at the end of the movie is the owner of Secretariat Penny, she is at the end of the movie in the crowd.
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.