Disney's new family film, Secretariat, opens this weekend supported by a Christian-targeted marketing push inspired by the success of last year's The Blind Side. The strategy make sense, says Salon movie critic Andrew O'Hehir, who slams Secretariat as a "Tea Party–flavored, Christian-friendly ... fantasia of American whiteness and power," a paean to the "Real America" so beloved of Glenn Beck and his conservative fans. Is O'Hehir's review a fair assessment, or is Secretariat just a refreshingly wholesome movie? (Watch the trailer for Secretariat)
Nice idea, but I don't buy it: The idea of Secretariat as a "fantasy fable for Tea Partiers" who yearn for a mythical, "prelapsarian America" is both marvelous, says Dana Stevens in Slate, and dubious. As far as I'm concerned, this is a "by-the-numbers sports-hero picture" for horse lovers. Those like O'Hehir who feel it ignores the "economic, historical, and racial reality" of the time can always "go rent Seabiscuit."
"Double fantasy, triple crown"
If the film is a liberal's worst nightmare, then sign me up: O'Hehir's "crazy" takedown of Secretariat was the second review I read, says Matthew Archbold in Creative Minority Report. The first review, which played up the movie's sincere Christian piety, made the movie seem appealing. But O'Hehir's "insanely liberal" take only "made me want to see it even more. Maybe twice." This reviewer might want to go back on the meds, though.
"Hilarious crazy movie review of Secretariat"
Disney won't be pleased by this reading: I don't buy O'Hehir's "sweeping over-interpretation" either, says Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times. It's fair to say that Secretariat reflects "an insular culture," but it doesn't endorse it. Still Disney execs must be anxious: "It's not every day that a respected critic describes your studio's most touted new film as 'a work of creepy, half-hilarious master-race propaganda almost worthy of Leni Riefenstahl.'"
"Disney's Rich Ross... Don't read this Secretariat review!"