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Seabiscuit /

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, William H. Macy
Directed by: Gary Ross
Produced by: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Gary Ross, Jane Sindell
Written by: Gary Ross, Laura Hillenbrand, Charlie Mitchell
Distributor: Universal Pictures


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Movie Image
Movie Image

     Seabiscuit is a beautiful, slow film that takes it’s time addressing all of the issues that it chooses to present. It, clearly, is the best mainstream movie out right now, and is well deserving of such a title. I hate to state the obvious, but in a summer of comic-book movies and ego-inflated sequels, it’s nice to see a flick like Seabiscuit get released. Featuring three tremendous actors, all executing a screenplay that was brilliantly adapted from an acclaimed novel, it will be the first Hollywood-movie that will be remembered, come Oscar time.

     Many, many years ago, sea biscuits were food rations for sailors in the Navy. They were as hard as rock and soiled in salt; most would call them painful to eat. In this movie, Seabiscuit is a horse, who, originally, came across as anything but desirable to everyone he came in contact with. A short, stumpy, rigid, little fellow, Seabiscuit was a worthless reject of a racehorse. In fact, for most of the first three years of his life, he was used to purposely lose practice races, with racehorses in training, to build up their confidence and self-esteem. Seabiscuit’s life as a horse was headed nowhere, until he found an ambitious trio, who were willing to take a chance on him.

     His trainer would be Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), a believer in the wills of all horses. Smith loved the animals, and never ever believed that a single one of them was worthless.

     The finder and sponsor of Seabiscuit was Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges), a millionaire, who struck it rich selling cars, before the Great Depression, the era in which this movie takes place. Just after losing his son, and divorcing his wife, Howard was in a tough stage of his life. He was desperate to find some form of joy, anywhere he could.

     Seabiscuit’s jockey was to be Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire). Pollard was much like Seabiscuit, and was ignored for most of his life. He was much too big to be a jockey, and was even blind in one eye, but like the horse he rode, he was very determined. In his employer Charles’s mind, this was enough.

     Seabiscuit chronicles the determination of these three characters, and the horse that they dedicated themselves to. Whether this determination be found in love, work, or well-being, it is always profoundly effective on the audience. Seabiscuit is that rare picture that will impress filmmakers as much as it will audiences. When viewing it, I was most reminded of last summer’s Road to Perdition, another big movie, with all of the moving qualities of a tiny, little piece from the art-house circuit.

     The performances are, undoubtedly, what hold the film together. While at first, the acting might not strike us as particularly great, once the main characters become more developed, we are able to admire the work of all of the performers, immensely. Bridges is solid, capturing much emotion in his part, as well as bringing forth hints of humor. Cooper is subtle, and always shows the audience the essence and vitality of all of the moments, in which he appears onscreen. As good as those two are, though, Seabiscuit is truly Maguire’s movie. Taking off his Spider-Man costume, and losing a few superhero-like abilities, he finally returns to familiar territory. After delivering a remarkable performance in The Cider House Rules a few years ago, Maguire proves that he still has the ability to act in more serious movies. Watching Seabiscuit, I came the closest I ever have to actually getting emotional over a movie. Even though it’s fairly predictable, Maguire and his co-stars are always there to make every single would-be, average scene, brilliant. Those that already were ingenious, often turn masterful because of the leading three.

     William H. Macy’s performance as a radio broadcaster, known as Tick Tock McGlaughlin, is also worth mentioning. The actions and expressions his character makes are always very funny, and along with a few of Bridge’s lines, provide the prefect comedic relief for Seabiscuit. The onscreen dynamics of this film are simply amazing; when watching, every single audience member will be, undeniably, touched.

     The look of Seabiscuit is astounding, too. When as much information and emotion is being thrown out at moviegoers, as there is in this movie, a pleasing appearance is always crucial. Not to mention, it runs a whopping two hours and twenty minutes, and in order to keep viewers captive for that long, having good looks is a must for a film. The sets, costumes, and cinematography in Seabiscuit all combine together, to create a beautiful cover, for a very (and surprisingly) deep movie. The colors and tones blend, and paint an effectively wondrous portrait of a motion picture.

     Sure to be remembered in the Oscar-race, and the first perfect mainstream movie of the year, Seabiscuit stands out amongst the pack. With a wonderful look and feel, spectacular performances, and vivid writing—it is so stupendous, many will find that its goodness is hard to put into words (but I think I have managed somewhat efficiently). If you’re foolishly trying to decide whether to see Legally Blonde 2 or LXG, do yourself a favor, and stop. If you go and see Seabiscuit, you will, without a doubt, want to see it over and over, again and again.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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