"When I went off to college I felt like that colt -- full of promise, full of adventure!" she declares upon seeing a young horse. When she learns that her teenage daughter is putting on a play to protest the Vietnam War, she says, apropos of nothing, "Our political beliefs can change, but our need to do what's right doesn't." This is to remind you that the movie is about Doing What's Right (or at least that it thinks it is), and that she, Penny Chenery, has done what's right. A stranger asks her what time it is and you half-expect her to launch into a discourse on the fleeting nature of time while the music swells on the soundtrack.
Penny Chenery, the genteel Virginia-born owner of the title racehorse in 'Secretariat,' might be the first movie character I've seen who is composed entirely of speeches. She has something stirring and passionate to say for every occasion, even occasions that do not call for stir or passion. Everything's a dramatic moment for her.
'Secretariat' is so intent on being inspiring that it forgets nearly everything else, including story and character. Directed by Randall Wallace ('We Were Soldiers') and written by Mick Rich ('Finding Forrester,' 'The Rookie,' 'Radio'), it recounts the true events of 1972-73, when a horse named Secretariat ran faster than some other horses and thereby won a lot of money for its owners. There's a good chance you already know that Secretariat won the Triple Crown; if you don't, the movie makes it clear early on that he's going to, with characters constantly saying things like, "The Triple Crown? Why, no horse has done that in 25 years!" and "If he doesn't win the Triple Crown, you'll lose the family farm!" You get the idea. The movie makes SURE you get the idea.