Generally favorable reviews - based on 36 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 70 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Based on the remarkable true story, "Secretariat" chronicles the spectacular journey of the 1973 Triple Crown winner. Housewife and mother Penny Chenery agrees to take over her ailing father's Virginia-based Meadow Stables, despite her lack of horse-racing knowledge. Against all odds, Chenery--with the help of veteran trainer Lucien Laurin--manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately fostering the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years and what may be the greatest racehorse of all time. (Walt Disney Pictures)

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 36
  2. Negative: 1 out of 36
  1. 100
    It is a great film about greatness, the story of the horse and the no less brave woman who had faith in him.
  2. 80
    What you DO get with Secretariat is a picture that, unlike its bland predecessor Seabiscuit, actually captures some of the thrill of racing.
  3. 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.
  4. 63
    The story as a whole seems stale and overly familiar.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

See all 36 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 24
  2. Negative: 3 out of 24
  1. Feb 12, 2011
    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. 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
  2. RJV
    Oct 8, 2011
    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. Expand
  3. May 31, 2011
    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 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
  4. Nov 26, 2010
    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. Expand
  5. Aug 23, 2011
    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. Collapse
  6. Oct 17, 2010
    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
  7. Jan 10, 2011
    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. Expand

See all 24 User Reviews