'Secretariat' Review: Surprisingly Delightful

Secretariat Diane Lane John MalkovichThe first words that come to mind after watching Secretariat: captivating ... and stressful.

Everything about Secretariat was captivating, especially Diane Lane. I love movies about strong women, but sometimes they border on bitchy. With Diane Lane, this didn't happen, possibly because the film didn't overplay the "woman entering a man's world" angle as much as it could have.

John Malkovich, Nelsan Ellis, and Margo Martindale were also great in this. They complemented each other and took turns providing comic relief and a little spark of hope.

But forget about that for a moment, because I can't remember the last time I was so stressed out watching a movie, let alone one about a horse race.


I wasn't even that stressed in Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken when Sonora (Gabrielle Anwar) goes out with her horse for the first time after the accident. And I know that wasn't a horse race, but there are horses in it, so I figure it makes a good comparison.

But back to Secretariat ...

In the back of our heads, we all knew the outcome of the important races, yet everybody around me in the theater stiffened up seconds into each race and we didn't relax again until it was over. We did this four times. Now that's a good movie!

The children in the theater were in love. I overheard some women say that Diane Lane's character taught them a thing or two. People clapped when the final race ended. Me? I was just glad it was over so I could breathe again.

But I loved it!

Well, there's one thing I didn't love. I could've done without the resounding chorus of "Oh Happy Day." It was a major moment, we get it. We didn't need a choir breaking the silence to highlight the significance of the moment. Trust me.

Oh! And that reporter who looks vaguely familiar without glasses and really familiar with them? That's totally Radzinsky from Lost! (Thanks, IMDB.)

So if you have kids, have them gallop into the nearest theater. If you don't, grab a friend and wear your coolest Kentucky Derby hat. You might be pleasantly surprised -- I know I was.

Did you plan on watching Secretariat this weekend?


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