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Overall Rating

Awesome: 27.45%
Worth A Look44.12%
Just Average: 18.63%
Pretty Crappy: 0.98%
Sucks: 8.82%

6 reviews, 66 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Solid, well-cast entertainment."
4 stars

Galloping virtually alone in the adult-interest lane among too many comic-book movies and teen-geek fantasies, 'Seabiscuit' the movie was as much an underdog in the summer of 2003 as Seabiscuit the horse was during the Depression.

For about 40 minutes, Gary Ross's adaptation of the Laura Hillenbrand bestseller feels a bit unfocused and awkward. Its three human leads -- auto seller Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges), who owns Seabiscuit; trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper), who gentles the horse into a contender; and failed boxer Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), who becomes Seabiscuit's jockey -- are introduced separately, and it takes a while for all three to get together. While we wait, narrator David McCullough makes the damn thing sound like one of the more earnestly journalistic PBS documentaries.

When the men unite around the horse, though, Seabiscuit gains power and depth. Seabiscuit, who famously got more newspaper ink in 1938 than FDR and Hitler, is positioned as the rejuvenating soul of a sick nation -- a long-odds hoss who surprises everyone and surges to greatness. Ross tells the story with a minimum of schmaltz, though he can't resist some pieties in the dialogue, as if he didn't trust the combined magic of editor William Goldenberg and cinematographer John Schwartzman to create poetry in motion. The racing sequences are unflashy yet exhilarating, generating old-school excitement without techno music or CGI. We know the odds, we know what's at stake, and we're given a God's-eye view of the races. Seabiscuit could've worked just as well -- maybe even better -- as a silent movie; in its modest way it re-introduces pure cinema to a summer full of bloat and hype.

Exquisitely cast, the movie focuses more on the embattled men at its center than on the titular champion. Jeff Bridges gives his lines an air of fatuous hucksterism -- he's glib, a salesman for Seabiscuit as well as for cars -- but Bridges' essential decency also comes through, as when he frets about the injured horse and his injured jockey going through with the climactic race. Chris Cooper will likely never be plausible as, say, an office manager or web designer, but he has perfected his piece of the Laconic Man of Nature turf; a man of very few words, Tom Smith (nicknamed "Silent Tom" back in the day) has to speak volumes with subtle eye shifts or grudging smiles, and Cooper is more than up to the challenge. Tobey Maguire risks making Red Pollard somewhat unstable and hot-headed, a realistically beaten-down young man whose very presence seems to calm the frightened, abused Seabiscuit, as if the horse had finally found his soulmate.

As he showed in 1998's now-and-then fantasy Pleasantville, Gary Ross has a gentle eye for time-capsule stories; the period of the late '30s is effortlessly evoked -- the whistlestop speeches, the men in straw hats, the effusive radio announcers (William H. Macy has fun as the fictional "Tick Tock" McGlaughlin, who uses clownish sound effects to augment his rhapsodies to the equine champion).

'Seabiscuit' may have been largely a media hero (his tale inspired an earlier film, 1949's 'The Story of Seabiscuit' with Shirley Temple), but his legend was hard-won. The movie's glowing reviews -- which fairly sigh with relief at the respite from overkill like 'Bad Boys II' -- are earned, too. 'Seabiscuit' is not a work of great art, but it tells its solid story with grace and dignity.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8017&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/13/07 20:37:09
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User Comments

9/12/17 morris campbell very good 4 stars
4/25/10 Monday Morning One of the best. Solidly in my top 5. 5 stars
1/12/09 Anonymous. one of my favorite movies, so inspiring :] 5 stars
10/21/08 Shaun Wallner Great story! 4 stars
4/20/08 action movie fan a bore from start to finish-tobey should be ashamed 1 stars
3/07/08 Pamela White inspiring and heartfelt story 5 stars
10/28/07 mb beautiful movie, deserved its oscar nomination. 4 stars
1/26/07 Tamara Leonard Loved the movie. Great cinematography. 5 stars
10/18/06 David Pollastrini not great, not terrible 4 stars
5/18/06 chienne Phar Lap was better, same sort of story, but good all the same. 4 stars
5/07/06 R.W.Welch Fine acting and cinematography. Macy does a great bit as flaky sportscaster. 4 stars
5/02/06 Shit on a stick My name says it all 1 stars
10/15/05 Quigley good acting, story and directing, but this is no hidalgo. 4 stars
8/30/05 Captain Craig Great production values and a wonderfull story. 5 stars
8/12/05 ES Many times I thought this horse destine to be nothing more than a glue stick, yet never was 3 stars
6/30/05 Eddie Very good acting+a good story=Seabiscut 5 stars
5/31/05 Suan Lee I loved this movie and the horse won my heart 5 stars
5/07/05 Bluto Chris Cooper and Jeff Bridges are master craftsmen 4 stars
3/03/05 Steve Newman Very enjoyable, easy to the eye. Definately rent this on eout 4 stars
2/12/05 Sylvia Belle enjoyed the movie 4 stars
2/05/05 choser It is my life 4 stars
11/24/04 Emperor's New Clothes You just can't hate on something so sweet 4 stars
10/21/04 T thoroughly enjoyable film. some top-notch performances 4 stars
10/16/04 Elisheva Rison It was Spiderman--but on a horse! Cool! 4 stars
10/16/04 Charlene Javier Like riding a mule. 3 stars
8/09/04 Peeved Prufrock Hollywood tries to write a better story than God- not even adequate Cliffs Notes 3 stars
8/08/04 psychotic black dwarf Substance is there, but the horse just doesn't captivate...bummer. 3 stars
7/20/04 Harry J If you like great movies, this one definitely fills the bill. 5 stars
6/01/04 Frazier A good movie with a lot of heart, worth a look 4 stars
4/17/04 valerie hart very good movie its touching and emotional and heartfull 5 stars
3/24/04 Margie i'm a sucker for underdogs. good movie. Beautiful scenery, music and costumes added lots. 4 stars
2/25/04 Stephanie Throckmorton Ultimately poignant, after taking forever to get started. 4 stars
2/21/04 Denise Duspiva A good story 4 stars
2/16/04 Lindsay Fantastic!!!! What a great movie. 5 stars
1/31/04 britney this movie should win this years OSCARS awards 5 stars
1/15/04 earthling This is the most formulaic, predictable piece of sentimental crap I have seen since 1 stars
1/02/04 Andy a fun movie 5 stars
12/29/03 HorrorScribbler Kinda like "Rocky" only with a horse instead of a beefy Italian. 4 stars
12/19/03 Kent Wonderful, heartfelt movie. Great movie! 5 stars
12/18/03 alien assassin Captivating historic drama 4 stars
12/02/03 My Two Cents Seabiscuit and Pumpkin and Tic Tock are great. The history is captivating. Holds your inter 4 stars
12/01/03 Chris I really loved this great drama with so much crap out there this was a delight. 5 stars
11/25/03 Gi Gi havn't seen it, but the name SUX 5 stars
11/21/03 Law Feelgood, really true, interesting, a little long 4 stars
11/09/03 EthelbertP Enjoyed it. 4 stars
8/27/03 Mr. Hat Great horses.1st hour's OK, but gets shallow. Holds record 4 slo-mo shots w/dramatic music. 3 stars
8/27/03 JJ from da block Sea biscuits are good, but the butt biscuits they cause are sickening 1 stars
8/18/03 chris i can only handle so much "if you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything" crap. 3 stars
8/17/03 Lord Chu Inspirational & heartfelt. Though I couldn't help but expect Red to start wall-crawling:p. 5 stars
8/04/03 jeremy loathsome, boring, pathetic, uninspiring, melodramatic hooey. 1 stars
8/04/03 KINKO horse is dead, fall in a bed, cut of his head, forever DEAD hahahahahaHA!!!!!!! 1 stars
8/04/03 T Owens Brilliant 5 stars
8/04/03 Tiffany It had a slow start but a great finish. It kept you cheering for the little guy. 4 stars
8/04/03 Movie Guy Bah! It was boring as hell. Gag me. 1 stars
8/03/03 Joman the best feel good sports movie since Rocky 5 stars
7/29/03 ownerofdajoint what an awesome movie.go see it!!!!!! 5 stars
7/29/03 pgunn@akingump.com A disappointment 3 stars
7/29/03 Asshat Like we really needed all of those lingering shots of Tobey's face. What a wuss... 1 stars
7/28/03 Rod Johnston I had a Seabiscuit yesterday and it tasted like crap. It tasted like Kurts girlfriend Lish 5 stars
7/28/03 Susannah The audience cheered and gave a standing ovation when the movie ended. That's rare! 5 stars
7/28/03 Taylor Fladgate Heartfelt story succeeds in spite of the script. 4 stars
7/28/03 Haggs Wonderful. Theatre applause. How/where can I obtain an answer to a question I have? 4 stars
7/27/03 leonard An INSULT on ever level. Garbage at it's best. 1 stars
7/26/03 Shaq Okay. 3...words. TOBEY...MAGUIRE...NAKED. 5 stars 5 stars
7/22/03 Ryan Parmele Good but not great 4 stars
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  25-Jul-2003 (PG-13)



Directed by
  Gary Ross

Written by
  Gary Ross

  Tobey Maguire
  Jeff Bridges
  Chris Cooper
  Elizabeth Banks
  William H. Macy
  Annie Corley

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