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Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper and William H. Macy
Directed by: Gary Ross




My mother always says if you don't have anything nice to say…blame 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…ugh.

Story goes…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.

Meanwhile 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.

He 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…

An 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…

With 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.

The 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.

The horse is gorgeous and produced the most emotional response in the film. Seabiscuit had spunk and was an American original. They captured that…

When 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.

In a sad daily double of misusing actors, the director extracts nothing more then a cheap reproduction of Tucker from mega-talent Jeff Bridges.

Tobey 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...

On 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.

Okay 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.

Snack recommendation: Apple pie and a cherry coke


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