Secretariat: The Making of a Champion by William Nack, is the loose basis for the new movie Secretariat. After the phenomenon of Seabiscuit–also based on a book, Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand–probably all horse-racing movies will be measured against it. As they should be, I would say. It was an excellent movie, about far more than just horse racing.
Secretariat was more of a champion from the beginning than Seabiscuit was. However, according to the movie, no one other than his owner, Penny Chenery (aka Penny Tweedy), thought that Secretariat would be able to handle the distances in the Triple Crown races, especially the grueling Belmont Stakes. And yet, Secretariat’s record for that race in 1973 (and the Kentucky Derby) still stands today, as does the impressive 31-length win. This is a story that begs to be told, especially for any who love horses and thrive on the “impossible” coming true.
Seabiscuit was a true champion, and a hero for the people, because no one believed he was worth much. And yet he trounced War Admiral, one of the greater horses of the time. Secretariat, on the other hand, was known to be exceptional; people just didn’t know if he could hold up his impressive speed for longer distances. Well, he sure showed them, didn’t he?
Anyway, back to the movie. Secretariat is one of the first non-animated family movies that have come out recently that I would recommend families go out and watch on the big screen. It’s definitely worth it. However, it does have its weaknesses. The acting is a little flat, to be honest. In fact, I think that Scott Glenn as Chris Chenery is one of the stronger actors–and he only has a few lines. Diane Lane and John Malkovich are both rather predictable in their respective roles, although it is amusing to hear Malkovich launch into a tirade in French.
I would recommend the movie, despite its weakness and cliche moments. It is an entertaining movie, one that a whole family can enjoy. And it is a rousing tale of an exceptional horse who made sure that the horse-racing world never took him for granted again. And his record still stands. What more need be said?