Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper and
William H. Macy
Directed by: Gary Ross
mother always says if you don't have anything nice to say
the director. Well here's a heapin' feedbag of blame for Gary
Ross! He's managed to dilute a few of America's richest characters
down to generic ah-shucks-buster-Grapes-of-Wrath stick figures.
He's also taken an exquisite story and stitched it together as
elegantly as yarn in silk. Heck, even the high stakes horse racing
scenes look like a company picnic competition after one too many
hot dogs have been shared with all the slo-mo edits
Underdog and oversized jockey-in-the-making Red Pollard
(Tobey Maguire) has a gift with the horses. He speaks their language.
When the Great Depression hits America, Red's parents, hoping
for a better life for the lad, leave him in the trust of a stable
owner. He grows into a bitter man.
somewhere in America, Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) decides automobiles
are the future and he grows to be a very wealthy man. Money leads
to hobbies. Hobbies of the rich lead to horses.
needs someone to run his stable and train his investments. Enter
a weird, different kind of handler, Tom Smith (Chris Cooper).
Smith has a kindness in his approach with the horses. He also
has a knack for spotting a winner a furlong away
unwanted, bitter yet spirited Napoleon-esque, thoroughbred named
Seabiscuit is up for auction and Smith wants him for Howard. Howard
thinks Smith made a mistake with the moody horse, but what the
heck it's only money, give the creature a chance
the help of his new brooding rider Red, and the encouragement
of Howard and Smith, Seabiscuit starts to believe in himself.
In fact, turns out Seabiscuit is the master of the homestretch
horses and the little horse no one loved, till now, proves we
can all grow into special beings given the chance. He starts to
kick some horsy ass on the country's finest tracks.
against-all-odds-American-spirit connection each of the saddened
souls had is one of the reasons, even today, the real-life legend
of Seabiscuit moves the most cynical of us.
horse is gorgeous and produced the most emotional response in
the film. Seabiscuit had spunk and was an American original. They
given two seconds to actually finish a thought in a scene,
Chris Cooper is doing his usual top shelf inner-angst oozing-at-the-seems
work. But his character Smith's story is flip-floppy and messy.
a sad daily double of misusing actors, the director extracts nothing
more then a cheap reproduction of Tucker from mega-talent Jeff
Maguire lost bags of weight for the role to give it his all, and
the performance, thanks to a director's colossal faux pas, has
taken one of the most touching "little-guy-makes-good"
scenarios in America's history and made it a snorefest. Poor carb
starved Tobey Maguire is so lethargic one fears he may faint in
the middle of a few scenes! Hmm, I
hope Maguire doesn't get a nod from the awards folks JUST
because of weightloss...
the positive side, you do get a tasty super-sized order of talent
William H. Macy in the within the trough of dull. Willie plays
a sensationalist sports reporter of the era and positively nails
Americana while illuminating the screen. It's a classic "Macy
performance" all right and I for one thank bejeezus it's
in there or I'd have been frolicking in Narm by the second half
of this trifecta of dull.
before you think I'm un-American or some such hubbaloo, it's not
the Seabiscuit's historical story that is across the boards dull,
it's the amorphous way the film trollops forward; inexplicable
"Pepperidge Farm Remembers" style narrations, the drama
which seems dealt out on some blatant emotion schedule, and the
film's characters' nuisances briefly sparked then snuffed with
erroneous scene interjections.Yech.
recommendation: Apple pie and a cherry coke