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Teen Review: ‘Secretariat’

Across the Universe’ Meets ‘Seabiscuit’

John Malkovich and Diane Lane star in

Credit: Walt Disney

Above: John Malkovich and Diane Lane star in "Secretariat."

If you like intense action, massive explosions, or epic shoot-out scenes, then “Secretariat” (opening October 1 throughout San Diego) is not for you.

I didn’t see “Secretariat” as much of a teen movie. In fact, when I walked into the theater there was nothing but old people and a few kids. As soon as I saw that I knew I was not going to enjoy the film. But even though I didn’t like it, it doesn’t mean it’s not a good film.

When Penny Chenery’s parents died, she and her brother inherited a racehorse stable. Since the farm is unstable and sending them into debt, Penny’s brother decides he wants to sell it. But Penny soon puts an end to this plan. She wants to keep the farm in memory of her father. All she needs to do is pay the $6,000,000 inheritance taxes and she can keep the farm. Luckily, before her father passed away, he made one last investment. The winner of a coin toss would get first pick of one of the two offspring from two excellent racehorse breeds. She ends up losing the coin toss but still gets what she wanted. She chooses the unborn offspring of Somethingroyal, a colt that would grow up to be known as Secretariat. Secretariat is the answer to Penny’s prayers. He races his heart out and gets Penny’s farm back on its feet. Plus he goes for the prestigious Triple Crown.

Although the exploding cars, extreme violence, and crude humor that us teens usually enjoy watching were missing, one could say the movie was bearable. Since I didn’t know the true story behind this movie, the race scenes kept me at the edge of my seat because I didn’t know whether Secretariat was going to win or lose. Also, this is a Walt Disney movie so I expected the “happily ever after.”

But I didn’t expect a cameo from Ms. Penny Chenery in the last race as a spectator. That made me feel more favorable toward the movie. How can you hate a movie about perseverance featuring the elderly person who persevered?

There wasn’t much else that appealed to me because I’m not really into horses and I’d probably only go to a horse race to gamble all my money way. But there was something that really made me laugh (although most people probably won’t react like me): Penny wasn’t really around her family because she was working in her stable. In her absence, Penny’s oldest daughter Kate was becoming more and more politically active and started becoming a super hippie. Every time Penny called Kate to see how she was doing there was always a group of activists making peace posters or getting ready to protest in the background. Now, I don’t know about the rest of the audience but, every time a scene like that came up my first thought was, “Across the Universe meets Seabiscuit!”

For teens, there is some hope that you might appreciate this film but you might enjoy it more if you’re a little kid, someone who’s into horses, or an elderly person. It’s a good choice if you want to take your grandparents out to a nice quiet movie or if you want to take a break from action films.

--Jesus Gomez just graduated from Mount Miguel High School and would like to become a film critic or writer.

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