O Happy Day!
Starring: Diane Lane, John Malkovich,
James Cromwell, Margo
Martindale, Otto Thorwarth,
Nelsan Ellis, Dylan Walsh,
Scott Glenn, Fred Dalton
Thompson, Kevin Connolly, and
Audience: Older children to adults
Runtime: 115 minutes
Distributor: Walt Disney Pictures/Walt
Director: Randall Wallace
Executive Producer: Mike Rich and Bill Johnson
Producer: Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray
Writer: Mike Rich
Address Comments To:Robert Iger, President/CEO
The Walt Disney Company (Walt Disney Pictures, Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures)
Rich Ross, Chairman, Walt Disney Studios
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521
Phone: (818) 560-1000
The movie opens in 1969 with Penny Tweedy, her husband and her four children in Denver getting word about her mother’s death. So, they drive to the funeral on the family horse farm in Virginia. The farm is on its last legs, and her father either has dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Unlike her Harvard professor brother, Penny understands her father’s dream and his tactic to achieve his dream, which is to buy the best mares that are less expensive and breed them with the best stallions owned by others because they are more expensive to produce a winner. In lieu of a stud fee, he made a deal with the wealthiest man in America at the time, Mr. Phipps, that they would flip a coin for the foal of two mares.
Penny’s brother, an economist from Harvard, just wants to sell the farm. Her husband, an attorney, goes along with her brother because of the high estate taxes. She understands horses so she stays, fires the dishonest trainer, figures out which mare is going to have the better colt, and, against all odds, raises the winning Secretariat by God’s will, with the help of her father’s middle-aged secretary, a new trainer and a stable hand.
True stories are hard to tell. After all, we often know the ending. Many people remember Secretariat very well, having lived through his victories. Many people also knew the key figures in the story. So, it is a major achievement that this movie gets you so excited about the races and even makes you think Secretariat can’t win. In other words, the script is very well constructed.
Better still, the movie has a clear invocation of God’s will throughout it and many positive references to Jesus in song that energizes and supports the movie’s inspirational victories. It also has an opening quote from the Book of Job that becomes a major theme. Furthermore, there are actions that acknowledge God’s victory and acknowledge a Christian worldview, including God’s magnificent Creation, as represented by the amazing title character. In doing all that, the movie upholds such biblical, moral values as honoring your parents and doing the right thing. The movie also extols free enterprise and individual initiative, two often overlooked byproducts of a Christian, biblical worldview.
There are, however, a few lightweight obscenities and vulgarities. And, the heroine’s daughter is caught up in the pacifist, socialist peace movement of the Vietnam era. Furthermore, there are some proto-feminist sensibilities.
Even so, none of these defects seriously diminish the story’s power and the movie’s inspirational content. In fact, at the end, even the hippies in the movie take pride in Secretariat’s story and the story of his owner and his loving companion, Penny Tweedy.
Some of the directing in SECRETARIAT is a little bit on the nose, and some of the dialogue is soft, but no movie is perfect. Ultimately, SECRETARIAT is one of the best, most inspiring movies of the year. It is stirring and joyful, with a sublimely powerful, heavenly ending that plays like a spiritual experience. People of faith and values everywhere definitely should support SECRETARIAT.
SECRETARIAT is one of the best, most inspiring movies of the year. It is stirring and joyful, with a sublimely powerful, heavenly ending. Better still, the movie has a clear invocation of God’s will throughout it and many positive references to Jesus in song. The references to Jesus energize and support the movie’s inspirational, biblical themes. The movie also extols free enterprise and individual initiative. There are a few lightweight obscenities and vulgarities, however, and some references to the pacifist anti-war movement at the time. Even so, none of these defects seriously diminish the story’s power and inspiration.