Secretariat - (3 1/2 Stars)
Whenever I watch an "inspirational sports film" I always go into the movie skeptical. It can't be helped. How many movies like Secretariat out there recycle a similar sports story and, despite the fact that they are based on true stories, still utilize the same tired plot points? There are many. So, going into Secretariat, I had my concerns.
For one thing, this movie is about a horse and not a person. Horse racing isn't exactly at the top of my list of "Must Watch" sporting events. Secondly, perhaps the biggest concern, I knew how the movie was going to end, or rather, how the story ends. My concerns weren't allayed at first. The movie starts as you would expect, with a dramatic voice-over quoting something or sharing an anecdote complete with your typical dramatic sports story music (compare soundtracks to sports movies sometime, they are quite similar). But where Secretariat goes from there is much better than I expected. In fact, it delivers a very entertaining story that, while following the exploits of a horse, also has a very human aspect to it in the story of the people who owned and trained and rode Secretariat.
The cast is top notch. Diane Lane does a pretty good turn as the tough, not-going-to-back-down Penny Tweedy nee Chenery and John Malkovich is always entertaining, and does a great job bringing his charisma to the cast. As for knowing how the movie ends, "Secretariat" still does an excellent job of building and maintaining suspense throughout the movie. I found myself several times questioning what I knew to be true. In the end, "Secretariat" delivers a well-acted, solidly entertaining inspirational sports movie. While it's not groundbreaking or anything particularly new, it's definitely worth a watch.
(123 minutes - Rated PG for brief mild language. - 2010) (Netflix)