Horse Wins, Audience Loses

8 Oct

I know what you’re thinking: Will Secretariat be Diane Lane’s The Blind Side? No. No, it won’t be. It won’t even be this year’s The Rookie, Miracle, or Seabiscuit. This fact-based film about the Triple Crown–winning horse and his fiesty owner is cut from the same cloth as those previously mentioned films: down on her luck character finds salvation/redemption through sport and battles adversity and naysaying by others with the help of a quirky coach/trainer to win the big game/race — or in this case, races. Lane even gets to sport a blond hairdo, like Sandra Bullock did in Blind Side.

However, unlike those other films, Secretariat has neither the suspense nor the grace to pull off making this true story a compelling big-screen story. Instead, like its title character, it’s a hard-charging film that’s not exactly subtle. From its first minute you know just what kind of predictable, sanitized, connect-the-plot-points movie it’s going to be, and the platitudes and obvious metaphors in the heavy-handed screenplay only serve to, ahem, beat a dead horse. And sure, there’s some gorgeous photography of the horse races, but that’s not enough to make Secretariat the sports classic it so wants to be. So that’s why I’m only giving this film a C–.

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