Featuring Tobey Maguire, Chris Cooper, Jeff Bridges
Director Gary Ross
MPAA Rating PG-13
The day we have all been waiting for is finally here, Seabiscuit is now open in theaters everywhere. I made sure to catch the very first showing here in town at noon on Friday and was very impressed. Any racing fan will love this movie and enjoy it immensely. People who don't know anything about racing will also enjoy it for the great story, excellent acting, and beautiful photography. The characters are very well defined and it would be hard not to feel for them as they struggle through their own personal problems to finally achieve success thanks to Seabiscuit.
The first section of the movie sets up the background for the story, showing how each of the main human characters had been hit by adversity during the same time the whole nation was suffering through the great depression. You don't see Seabiscuit until well into the movie, but once he appears he becomes the central focus of the story.
Tobey Maguire does a great job as jockey Red Pollard, even though he is really a bit young compared to the real Pollard was during his time with Seabiscuit. Chris Cooper gives a solid performance as "Silent Tom" Smith, exuding an aura of calm strength even at the worst of times. Jeff Bridges is exuberant as Seabiscuit's owner and biggest promoter, Charles Howard. William H. Macy adds a nice bit of comic relief with his scenes as radio race reporter "Tick Tock" McLaughlin, a character created for the movie who was not in the book. Even first-time actor and jockey Gary Stevens does a very credible job as George Woolf.
Although there were 15 different horses who played the role of Seabiscuit, each covering various aspects of his personality, you can't really tell it isn't all the same horse. Chris McCarron, who also choreographed all the races, picked all the horses all out personally and he did an excellent job making them match the looks of the originals.
Director Gary Ross did a great job translating the best-selling book to the screen. It is very true to the story, although obviously some things had to be left out or it would have been way too long. The racing action, which was filmed in an entirely new way, is exciting but perhaps a bit too close up at times making it hard to see the whole race unfold. This is probably just a quibble that racing fans will have, since they are used to the traditional way horse races are televised. The general public, most of whom have probably never watched a horse race, will probably enjoy it more and not miss a thing.
Don't miss this movie, it is a must-see for any racing fan. It has already had many rave reviews from movie critics, who probably don't know or care anything about horse racing, and most seem to think it is Oscar material. Take your non-racing friends to see it; maybe then they will understand your obsession.
Rating: 5 starts out of 5
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