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Secretariat (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) - Blu-ray / animation DVD / family and children's DVD review
SECRETARIAT (TWO-DISC BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO) Rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 3 1/2 stars
Featuring: Diana Lane, John Malkovich, Dylan Walsh, Margo Martindale, Nelsan Ellis
Director: Randall Wallace Studio: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
DVD release: 25 January 2011 Runtime: 123 min. (2 discs)
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p HD, Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 - English; Dolby Digital 5.1 - French, Spanish), Subtitles (English SDH, French, Spanish), Heart Of A Champion, Choreographing the Races, A Director's Inspiration: A Conversation With The Real Penny Chenery, Audio commentary (dir. Randall Wallace), Secretariat Multi-Angle Simulation, Deleted scenes (optional audio commentary w/ dir. Randall Wallace), Music video (AJ Michalka "It's Who You Are")

*Secretariat (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)*I'm not a fan of sports or race events of any kind, but I do like a well-made film no matter what it's about. Secretariat is a well-made film that just happens to be about one of the most celebrated racehorses of our time. Secretariat, known as "Big Red" by his owner, handlers, jockey and trainer, came from good breeding stock but was not expected to be as successful as another foal more desired at the time.

Penny Chenery Tweedy (Diane Lane) knew the history of Red's progenitors and wisely decided that he'd be really good at his job. Red really seemed to enjoy the competition as well as the spotlight; he'd pose for the cameras whenever they appeared.

Penny came from good stock as well. Her father, Chris Chenery (Scott Glenn), knew his horses well. At the beginning of the film, he seems to be suffering from old age and possibly dementia. He escapes from his fog occasionally to notice the beginnings of Secretariat's stellar career. Penny frequently leaves her husband and children in Colorado to go to Virginia to help bring Secretariat up and into the racing life, trying to save the family stables when conventional wisdom says she should sell. She recruits French-Canadian trainer Lucien Laurin (John Malkovich), dragging him out of retirement. Laurin brings in Ronnie Turcotte (Otto Thorwarth), a jockey reputed to push horses as hard as he pushes himself. He is rumored to have burst a horse's heart once, an insinuation that remains in the back of the viewer's mind despite the foreknowledge that Secretariat will live to win the Triple Crown.

Scott Glenn's performance is exquisite; he speaks volumes with only a few words. John Malkovich is (unsurprisingly) also amazing as Laurin, prone to outbursts of French when he is unable to find appropriate words in English. Diane Lane plays a strong, smart, confident woman who knows the business as well as all the boys in this male-dominated field. She pushes her way through doors not open to her and handles competing trainer Pancho Martin with smooth coolness (and an undercurrent of frustrated resentment).

Secretariat, a great film of horse-racing competition, focuses on relationships - relationships with Big Red, his owner, his groom Eddie Sweat (Nelsan Ellis), his trainer, and his jockey. They are a team, a family. The races themselves are kinetic and fierce, only occasionally backing the camera away enough to see from an audiences' perspective. I recall seeing one shot from a camera mounted on a horse's belly.

Extra features include a racing choreography featurette, a conversation with the real Penny Chenery, director's commentary, deleted scenes and more. Disney delivers another family-friendly film with a heart as big as Secretariat's (22 pounds!).
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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