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"SECRETARIAT"
(2010) (Diane Lane, John Malkovich) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Minor Heavy Minor Minor
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild None None None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor None Extreme Heavy Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: After inheriting her parents' horse breeding farm, a housewife won't give in to pressure to sell and instead has faith that her new race horse will be the answer both to her problems and dreams.
PLOT:
It's 1969 and Penny Chenery (DIANE LANE) is a housewife in Denver raising four kids -- Kate (AJ MICHALKA), Sarah (CARISSA CAPOBIANCO), Chris (SEAN CUNNINGHAM) and John (JACOB RHODES) -- with her attorney husband, Jack (DYLAN WALSH). When she gets a call that her mother has died, she returns to her childhood home in Doswell, VA where her parents ran a successful but now financially struggling horse breeding farm. With her father, Chris (SCOTT GLENN), suffering from dementia, it's up to Penny and her Harvard economics professor brother, Hollis (DYLAN BAKER), to figure out what to do.

Hollis wants to sell the place, but Penny wants to see if she can keep it operational. Taking advice from family friend Bull Hancock (FRED DALTON THOMPSON), she tries to hire semi-retired Lucien Laurin (JOHN MALKOVICH) to be her new trainer, but he's reluctant, telling her that top trainers only work with top horses. Learning she might have one in a yet-to-be born foal that comes from good breeding stock, he agrees. While she loses a "pick the new foal" coin toss with investor Ogden Phillips (JAMES CROMWELL), she ends up getting the horse she wanted and names him Big Red.

The horse is renamed Secretariat by her father's secretary, Elizabeth Ham (MARGO MARTINDALE), who's stayed on to help Penny just like groomer Eddie Sweat (NELSAN ELLIS). After a bad first race, Lucien and Penny convince jockey Ronnie Turcotte (OTTO THORWARTH) to be their new rider, and things take a turn for the better with successive and impressive race wins.

But when Penny's father dies and the family faces a huge estate tax, both Hollis and Jack try to convince her to sell. With the help of Bull's son, Seth (DREW ROY), however, she comes up with another plan. It's then off to the Triple Crown where Secretariat must compete with the speedy horse owned by Pancho Martin (NESTOR SERRANO) and any loss will likely result in Penny losing both the farm and the horse she loves.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're into horse racing (or just horses in general) they probably will, while fans of anyone in the cast might also be attracted to this.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
For brief mild language.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • DIANE LANE plays a late 1960s/early '70s housewife who ends up taking over her parents' horse breeding farm following their deaths. Not wanting to sell despite the potential payoff and need to pay massive estate taxes, she goes against her brother and husband in working to make the farm profitable, mainly through her belief that Secretariat will win the Triple Crown. She must contend with various setbacks along the way, but perseveres nonetheless. She drinks a little.
  • JOHN MALKOVICH plays a somewhat eccentric trainer who Penny convinces to come out of semi-retirement to work for her. He uses brief profanity and is prone to wearing various colorful hats.
  • DYLAN WALSH plays Penny's husband, an attorney who initially puts up with her time, money and energy spent trying to keep the farm afloat, but soon loses patience for that along with his support for her. He drinks a little.
  • DYLAN BAKER plays Penny's brother, an economics professor at Harvard who wants to sell the farm and especially Secretariat so that the family can pay off the massive estate tax created upon their parents' deaths. He drinks a little.
  • MARGO MARTINDALE plays Penny's father's secretary who stays on to help and support Penny through the hard times.
  • NELSAN ELLIS plays the groom who cares for Secretariat.
  • OTTO THORWARTH plays the jockey who takes over riding Secretariat, a man known for pushing horses hard, but one with a winning record doing so.
  • FRED DALTON THOMPSON plays a family friend who advises Penny about what to do with the horse farm business, including hiring Lucien.
  • JAMES CROMWELL plays an investor who had an agreement with Penny's father about doing a coin flip for foals produced by their breeding horses. He's in it for the money, but is compassionate toward Penny as well.
  • SCOTT GLENN plays Penny's elderly father, now saddled with some sort of dementia.
  • DREW ROY plays Bull's young adult son who agrees to help Penny's business idea regarding Secretariat's breeding rights.
  • AJ MICHALKA plays Penny's oldest daughter who's become a socially active hippie protesting the Vietnam War.
  • NESTOR SERRANO plays the egotistical owner of Secretariat's rival horse, a boastful man who belittles Penny.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a quick look at the content found in this PG-rated drama. Profanity consists of a handful of minor expletives, while some colorful phrases are also uttered. A young woman is briefly seen in a bikini (or similar) top, while some cleavage is viewed.

    Some viewers might be concerned about a horse's health due to running too hard. Bad attitudes are present, some of which lead to tense family material (while parental deaths also add to that). Thematic elements are also present.

    Drinking occurs in various scenes, while there's a little bit of crude humor and some material that might prove enticing to imitate.

    Should you still be concerned about the film's appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home, you may want to look more closely at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there's some of that from camera flashes in several scenes.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there's bouncy footage during many of the races, some of it point of view, the rest alongside the horses. Other handheld camerawork is occasionally seen.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Jack tells Penny what wine he wants her to buy for a client of his.
  • Hollis has a drink.
  • Ogden opens some champagne, but we don't see any being consumed.
  • We see wine in front of Penny and a drink in front of Jack with dinner.
  • Miscellaneous people have wine in a restaurant.
  • A miscellaneous guy has a drink.
  • Penny carries what might be a drink at a race.
  • Hearing that Secretariat has been named horse of the year, Lucien shouts out, "Arnold Palmers for everyone."
  • Penny and Seth hold what may be drinks.
  • People carry drinks at the Derby.
  • People have drinks at a ball.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We briefly see some birth membrane (no blood) on Secretariat when he's born.
  • Ronnie has a few bruises and/or dried cuts on his face from a previous and unseen spill during a race.
  • Secretariat suddenly urinates on the ground near a reporter (we see the splashing on the ground).
  • Upset with Pancho and/or his trainer, Lucien goes on a tirade about how one or both couldn't train a monkey to "pick his own butt" or couldn't train "his own bowel movement."
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The farm's current trainer isn't a nice or personable man (to Eddie or Penny), and we learn that he was involved in the arrangement of trying to sell some of Chris' horses for less than they were worth to another farm where he (the trainer) also works.
  • Jack isn't happy with the time or money that Penny is spending on the farm and becomes less so as time goes on.
  • Some men make fun of Penny and her horse, calling Secretariat "secretary."
  • Jake informs Penny that none of his money will go to support Penny's quest.
  • Poncho is often egotistical and belittling toward Penny, including at press conferences.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Lucien states it could be dangerous to push Secretariat rather than let him rest before the last big race. That, coupled with word that Ronnie once pushed a horse until its heart burst could lead some viewers to worry about Secretariat, especially with the fast pace during the last race.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • In Kate's anti-war play, actors carry around fake/prop bombs.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "Who the hell /told you.../do you think you are?" "You idiot," "Sire, dam and Sam I am," "She scares me," "What the hell were you doing?" "It's commie crap," "This guy will not shut his face," "He couldn't train a monkey to pick his own butt," "He couldn't train his own bowel movement," and "Getting your butt whipped."
  • Upset with his lousy golf game, Lucien throws his golf bag into a trash can while sarcastically yelling "Four!"
  • Lucien routinely wears colorful, multi-print hats.
  • Lucien burns some old newspaper clippings in a coffee mug.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 3 hells, 1 crap and 1 damn.
  • Lucien may curse in French, but not understanding the language, we don't know what was said.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We briefly see a young woman in a bikini top (or similar) in a war demonstration office.
  • Ronnie's date shows some cleavage in her formal dress.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Penny gets a call that her mother has died and thus travels with her family to the farm where they meet her brother, Hollis. She also chats privately with her father (who suffers from some form of dementia), followed by them seen at the funeral service.
  • Jack isn't happy with the time or money that Penny is spending on the farm and becomes less so as time goes on.
  • Due to her flight being canceled, Penny misses Kate's play (and thus has to listen over the phone).
  • Penny hears that her father had a stroke, visits him in the hospital (he's unconscious), and we then learn that he has died (the death is not seen).
  • Penny is upset with both her brother and husband for conspiring to sell the farm (including Secretariat) in order to pay off the $6 million due in estate taxes.
  • We hear that Bull died, and Penny later chats with his son about that.
  • Jake informs Penny that none of his money will go to support Penny's quest.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The historical accuracy and/or artistic license taken with the true story.
  • The horse racing industry.
  • Horse breeding.
  • Penny having to deal with sexism toward her and her goal.
  • Following one's dreams and not giving up despite the obstacles.
  • Estate taxes.
  • Kate becoming a social activist and wanting to protest the Vietnam War.
  • Penny's two daughters want to go off and teach in Chile.
  • Penny's idea to sell 32 shares of Secretariat's future breeding rights for $190,000 each.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Ronnie whacks a cab with his crutches when it nearly hits him on the street (played lightly).



  • Reviewed September 20, 2010 / Posted October 8, 2010

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