Stars: ** 1/2
Rating: PG-13 for adult situations
Run Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Releasing an uplifting, pro-Americana drama in the thick of the stagnant summer-action season may appear to be risky business, but in reality it’s the brilliant counter-marketing move of a source who understands that less can be more. Based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2001 best-selling book “Seabiscuit: An American Legend”, this flag-waving beauty is almost worthy of the gamble.
was a runty Thoroughbred who galvanized post-Depression
owner was self-made
Horses or humans? “Seabiscuit” lays claim to its prerogative to play fast and loose with its character back-story and docu-drama Depression history (narrated in a desert-dry voice-over by David McCullough) while maintaining its equestrian patina. That loss of focus, and a penchant for telegraphing the obvious, undermines the story’s heartfelt glaze. Fraught with sentiment and one-dimensional storytelling, the narrative lacks the challenging edge necessary to augment its picture-postcard perfection.
Visually the film is a thing of beauty, awash in the clarity of a more innocent time. The horse races reek of the heady scent of competition – taut and thrilling. Casting is stereotypically inspired: Tobey Maguire (as Pollard) for his quirks, Chris Cooper for his quiet peculiarities, and Bridges for his brooding charm. The six horses who play Seabiscuit himself are a study in sleek horsy posturing -- galloping, rearing, and prettily preening.
line, “Seabiscuit” is a lavish disappointment -- a saccharine valentine to