Friday, October 15, 2010

Secretariat - 1/2*

Secretariat features three different types of dialogue: 1) Obviously Expository: "I've got a meeting with Ogden Phipps." "Ogden Phipps... the richest man in America?" "Yes." 2) Expressions of Doubt Right Before Secretariat Wins a Race: "Why is he hanging back so long?" "I can't watch this." "We're done." 3) Trite Qualifiers for How Fast Secretariat is Running Instead of Just Showing It: "No horse can go that fast!" "Have you ever seen a horse run that fast?" "That's impossible!" "Unbelievable!" "I don't believe it!" And when the audience dozes off for a couple of minutes and misses the dialogue, the generic score will tell them exactly what's happening, like when Secretariat is making a move to win, or when somebody dies. So don't worry, you'll never be lost. If someone drags you to this thing, kill the popcorn and volunteer to get more, or take an extra long doodie and play some games on your phone, or better yet, YouTube the videos of the actual Triple Crown races that Secretariat won... I assure you you'll find a lot more excitement in those videos, and maybe even better cinematography, and Secretariat will definitely not cross the finish line to the tune of a Gospel hymn and a scripture reading.

Secretariat packs enough drama into any scene to launch a spin-off film, and when things aren't really that dramatic, they're made dramatic, like when Diane Lane's character, Penny receives a phone call with news that her (at least) seventy-five year-old mother passed away (peacefully), the news is shocking enough for director Randall Wallace to end the scene with a shot of her dropping the bowl of pancake batter she was mixing. They're not afraid to radically condense details, either, like when Penny sits down for breakfast in a diner, and someone comes in with a newspaper declaring Secretariat "Horse of the Year" and everybody stands up and cheers (Yay!), only to be followed by a friend informing Penny that her father just died (Aw, shucks). You'd think that Disney would have mastered the annual inspirational sports movie by now... They haven't. Not by a long shot.

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