It isn’t just that — for once — Disney didn’t kill off the mother. (Nemo. Bambi. Little Mermaid….) It’s that they made her a hero.
In August while at BlogHer, the ginormous mom blogger conference where you make friends and can haul off bags of swag, my friend Dawn Sandomeno of PartyBluprints got an invitation to watch a screening of Secretariat, the new Disney movie to be released on October 8th. She snagged me an invite too, and we met up with her business partner, Elizabeth Mascali, at a movie theater near Times Square to watch the movie. Once we caught on that the animated scenes we’d stumbled into after arriving late was a preview for some other movie, we settled into our fabulously plush seats to watch “Secretariat.”
Based on a true story, “Secretariat” isn’t about the horse so much as the woman behind the horse — housewife and mom Penny Chenery, played wonderfully by Diane Lane. Penny agrees to take over her ailing father’s 2,800-acre horse farm, despite her inexperience.
Naturally, the horse racing community doesn’t embrace Penny. I mean, it was the early seventies, and she was a stay-at-home mom. (Heck, they’d give her grief even now.) But Penny hires veteran trainer Luciean Laurin (John Malkovich), and manages to navigate the male-dominated business, ultimately helping Secretariat become the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years.
Even though you know the ending of what may be the greatest racehorse of all time, you’ll still cheer for the horse. That’s pretty good movie-making. I laughed. I cried. (I know you did, too, Dawn. I saw you!) I thanked the producer, Mark Ciardi, for making a hero out of a middle-aged housewife. (Then I got a photo with him, because he’s darn cute, too.)
“Secretariat” is about believing in something enough to take a huge risk. It’s about how important family is when you are taking such a risk. And it’s about a woman who rocks.
My son has decided to have his birthday party at “Secretariat” when it comes out next month, and frankly, I can’t wait to see it again. If you’re thinking of going, take the kids. It’s rated PG; there’s little that’s objectionable in it. And yet, it’s still entertaining for the grown-ups.
I know that I normally leave the movie reviews around here up to the capable and terrific Jane Boursaw, but this movie really resonated with me. Besides, Disney is giving me free stuff to give away, and I like to pass along the love from MommaSaid to you:
HOW TO ENTER:
Friday, October 8th at noon ET (the day the movie releases)
OPEN TO U.S. RESIDENTS ONLY. ONE ENTRY PER E-MAIL ADDRESS. (MULTIPLES WILL BE DELETED.)
Full Disclosure: Disney let me see the movie for free. Then they let me have a beer (okay, two) at their after-party, and sent me home with two of these t-shirts and a hat. I gave the kid’s t-shirt to my niece, who loves horses, and kept the rest, including the beer.