Dave White
Secretariat Review

Dave's Rating:


Kudos to you, rich white lady with the superhorse.

Who's In It: Diane Lane, John Malkovich, Scott Glenn, James Cromwell, Dylan Walsh, Fred Thompson, Kevin Connolly, Nestor Serrano, Margo Martindale, Nelsan Ellis

The Basics: The true story of Penny Chenery Tweedy, owner of Secretariat, the most famous horse to take the Triple Crown. She wins him in a coin toss, saves her dying father's horse ranch, brushes him while dancing to gospel songs, becomes a thorn in the sides of chauvinistic male horse-owners, raises her own family, cheers ecstatically every time the horse comes in first (and that's a lot) and looks 24/7 awesome the entire time.

What's The Deal: Oh, wait, did you want to see a horse movie? Like were you thinking this was going to be mostly about a horse because it's named after one? Well, sorry, but it's about Diane Lane's character and her own difficulties in being a woman racehorse owner during an era when women were only just starting to get their political legs under them and few owned championship racehorses. Weirdly enough, the word "feminism" never enters the film at all, but Lane demonstrates plenty of it as obnoxious guy after obnoxious guy wilts under her constant charm and well-timed sarcastic retorts. It also helps that she owns a mega-horse that can't lose. And because this is a Disney-operated family film, it hits all the right beats anyway and you wind up not really caring that the horse is kind of a supporting character.

The Biggest Hurdle: I'd like to refer you to the Dakota Fanning movie Dreamer, if I may. You probably didn't bother watching that one, but it's about this horse with a broken leg. And Dakota Fanning herself becomes a child doctor and heals that horse and makes it race. By the end of that movie you're freaking out that the horse is going to re-break its leg and it's sort of terrifying to watch. And then it makes you cry. But this movie is about the biggest, studliest, prize-winningest animal of the last century. The coin toss where Diane Lane wins him at the beginning of the movie is the only suspense there is. And it's not like his superiority and race-slaying abilities are ever in doubt. So telling yourself you don't know how it's all going to turn out--besides the surprise detail of the end credits where you learn that he sired 600(!) foals--is sort of tough.

Retro Wig Enthusiasts, Take Note:You could go see this just to enjoy the production design. It takes place from the years 1969 to 1973 and it gives you the most handsome and conservative version of that era. Not one groovy, candy-colored, Brady Bunch-inspired piece of anything in sight. Meanwhile, Diane Lane's fancy lady costumes and hair are even more good-looking than the horse playing Secretariat. When they're both on screen it's her you're staring at.

Hey Atheists, You Can Stop Freaking Out: Anything you read about heavy-handed religious proselytizing is an exaggeration. It's a bath of pretty stuff (with a dollop of Vietnam War protesting on the side) and fairly quiet about its Christian underpinnings. So don't get too excited about what you're hearing. Unless you hate The Staple Singers. And if you do then there's just something wrong with you.


Comments (24)

terry - 10-08-2010 9:53 AM
Flag This Comment

For those of us who know the whole story because we read the book (many times) and were actually around in those days the movie is quite pleasant, but not overly devoted to fact. Sectretariat's birth was not viewed by all those depicted in the movie, he did not stand up faster than the normal foal, Penny Tweedy never guaranteed that Secretariat would win the Triple Crown, and the film's painting a picture of Penny Tweedy as blazing a path for women in the male dominated sport of racing is (predictable but) not true - If you have the money you're in. When she took over Meadow Stable she had Bull Hancock's help and it doesn't get any better than that. Full disclosure - I have a crush on Diane Lane and I'm almost 67 years old sigh

Mark - 10-08-2010 1:19 PM
Flag This Comment

"Let me make sure I've got this straight - You actually get PAID for writing drivel like this? Where do I sign up?" - Terry. Terry, not that you would care much but Dave is a person. If you would walk up to a person and say that to their face, then you are one of the more despicable people on this earth.

jbg - 10-08-2010 2:54 PM
Flag This Comment

Small correction: Secretariat was not the last horse to win the Triple Crown. Seattle Slew and Affirmed have both won it since then.

Louis - 10-08-2010 5:08 PM
Flag This Comment

Rich white lady with the superhorse? What on earth does the woman's race have to do with this story that it requires a prominent mention in your review headline? Jerks like you along with every hack politician constantly preach to the rest of us about what bigots we are, yet you are the ones who inject racial division into every conceivable situation. Well, mr. fat, bald, self-hating, no fact checking movie review-hack writer Dave, I'm going to spend the money to see Secretariat no matter what you wrote. Here's another fact you missed. Secretariat was the only sports "figure" ever to be featured on the cover of Time, Newsweek and Sports Illustated in the same week. Top that hack-writer. No one will remember you when you're gone.

William - 10-08-2010 6:38 PM
Flag This Comment

Here's a thought, read all of Dave White's reviews, they're almost always awesome, insightful, humorous and appreciative of the rare occurances when hollywood finally bucks a trend, and embraces creativity rather than dish out formulaic, predictive shlock like this movie, that you've already seen a hundred other times. if you want to be a critic of a person's abilities, create your own dead-end blog instead of mucking one up that people enjoy, and quit bashing a writer who does something different, successfully. And not one person could care less about your un-requited creepy crush on diane lane. write on dave, you rule man.

PJ - 10-08-2010 9:31 PM
Flag This Comment

usually when he rates something i do the opposite. Sometimes i agree with the review but i dont go to a movie to look for a mistake or something wonderful, i just let it happen. If it makes me laugh, awesome , if it tells a great story, great. I dont know about the "rich white lady" comment. Unless its in the movie, if i posted something like "rich mexican lady" or "rich black lady" i would be blasted and lose my job. Like i said, unless "rich white lady" is used in the movie in some sort of way, could have been just as easy to say "rich lady". I will see this movie tonight or tomorrow, just want to enjoy myself.

Marcus - 10-09-2010 12:46 PM
Flag This Comment

That's an odd amount of hate towards Dave White. I've been reading him for the past 3 or 4 years or so (aside from those months where movies.com didn't have any reviews) and have found all of his reviews to be committed and inspired. He has a decent amount of film knowledge under his belt and doesn't abuse name dropping like Armond White or other incredibly pretentious critics. So what if he can't write as well as Ebert, he has a style all his own and is incredibly consistent.

KAITLYN MILLER - 10-10-2010 10:30 AM
Flag This Comment


Ke$ha - 10-10-2010 2:39 PM
Flag This Comment

Dave white. Dave, Dave, Dave!!!!!!!!!!!! Shame on you! ive never heard so much bs from a critic with much potential. forget it!! you suck!!! ALL YOU PPL OUT THERE THIS MOVIE IS THE BOMBDIGGIDY!!!! BELIEVE ME! DONT LISTEN TO THIS BS!!!

Fantaisia - 10-10-2010 2:41 PM
Flag This Comment


Austin - 10-10-2010 10:35 PM
Flag This Comment

The movie was one of the best movies I have ever seen. Almost the whole entire time of the movie you were sitting on the edge of your sit just waiting for something to happen. Great Movie a must see!!!

Holly - 10-11-2010 12:39 AM
Flag This Comment

Wow, those are some crazy angry comments. The review is just one guy's opinion. I'd like to point out that the movie reviewer on foxnews.com also gave this movie three out of five stars without provoking any angry politically themed comments.

lmc - 10-11-2010 2:45 PM
Flag This Comment

All I know is I enjoyed the movie thoroughly. And just for the record, Penny Tweedy LOST the coin toss and ended up with Secretariat as a result. As it happened that was what she wanted anyway. This was a heart-warming, inspiring and true story and throughly entertaining. All the cynical and sarcastic comments will not change that fact. When I watch a movie, I want to be entertained. And with this one, I was. These days, that's saying a lot.

TJ - 10-12-2010 8:04 AM
Flag This Comment

Yeah, I've got a problem with the "Kudos to you, rich white lady with the superhorse" title line. I don't understand why people continue to use race and ethnicity in contexts made to be demeaning. Respect is a word lost on most people. It's a shame.--The movie was wonderful. I took my six year old twins and they even enjoyed it. Nice message.

LB - 10-12-2010 3:49 PM
Flag This Comment

Dave White rocks the house! Comments, however, are a needless source of irritation. The comments on THIS site are the literary equivalent of a painful rectal itch.

Not-Rich Not-White Not-Lady - 10-12-2010 3:57 PM
Flag This Comment

You people are TERRIFIED of any mention of race. "Rich white lady" is relevant descriptive information because it denotes a specific privileged class and type of person, circa 1969. You can infer what her cultural norms will be, i.e, not wearing white spectator pumps after labor day, etc. If she were black, Latino, or an angry anarchist transsexual, it would be a different story.

Fran - 10-12-2010 5:41 PM
Flag This Comment

As a general rule if Dave White doesn't like a movie I end up loving it. One of us has taste, I'm not quite sure what he has!

Knightsbud - 10-12-2010 7:55 PM
Flag This Comment

Once again Dave White does not disappoint me. His reviews should be rated instead. He would always end up with a score of 1 or less if possible. As for the movie, it was a TRUE story first of all. It was about believing and following through. It was refreshing to watch, not Mr White's gorry antimated type of film, so no gold stars from him, best reason for going and enjoying.

Tarzana Jane - 10-12-2010 9:19 PM
Flag This Comment

"Rich white lady with the superhorse?" Dave the lame confused headed lost his credibility. What racial image disorder must you possess to inject this irrational statement. Do you hate your white skin? If, so speak mockingly of your self loathing. I had no idea either how this film would turn out, so Yes, Big suspense for me. I was praying this massive beautiful horse would not die in the last race, or break a leg. It turned out so well. This film was the finest I've seen this year, so emotionally satisfying. Why the three stars, less than average? This is 5 PLUS in my book, I feel great, and that's all that matters after a wonderful performance and storyline. Thank you Disney for this rare HIGH QUALITY treat. Amazing movie.

Henry Rollins - 10-16-2010 11:17 PM
Flag This Comment

Wow Dave, looks like you've angered the "I don't do my own thinking / Not like me = Satan". I'm actually shocked that some of these folks we're able to hit the pause button on Glenn Beck long enough to catch a flick. Keep up the great work!

Maggie - 10-17-2010 4:11 PM
Flag This Comment

I love Dave's reviews and generally find them pretty on target. But sometimes I still enjoy the movie a lot more than he did. Save whacking for all those critics who said "Broken Flowers" was wonderful. I'm still bummed on that one years later.

cs - 10-26-2010 10:25 PM
Flag This Comment

Um, Dave's review really wasn't that negative...and it's interesting that everyone assumed the statement "rich white lady" was meant to be demeaning/negative. She was rich. She was white. She was a lady. He's just stating facts people, in a light-hearted and comedic fashion. Another thing - If you consistently disagree with a critic's reviews, that doesn't mean he is a bad film critic and it DEFINITELY doesn't mean that you have better taste than he does. It just means he's a different person with his own opinion, something that should be valued in a reviewer.

Dave Kearns - 11-06-2010 9:11 PM
Flag This Comment

Just saw the movie and I must have watched the JesusLite(TM) version. Barely any religion, just a little bible verse thrown in in the beginning. No, how I as a citizen of these USA know there is a conspiracy to DESTROY through ridiculacizing great American stories? And I can't believe Dave didn't catch it! THE CHILDREN DON'T GROW UP! The younger boys never age!!! Is this A Beautiful Mind and we are all John Nash/Russell Crowe? As many as five years go by and the youngest child, who starts the movie at 10 ages all of 15 minutes. How was this missed? More logic bombs throughout. Too bad because the race sequences were amazing. MORE HORSE! LESS BAD DIALOGUE! Nice looking horse. Scott Glenn as corpse. Is this a wise allocation of $?

me - 6-27-2013 1:55 PM
Flag This Comment

Corrected headline: Rich white lady wins superhorse in coin-toss, becomes richer

Leave a Comment


Dave's recent reviews

All Dave White's Movie Reviews