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Dan Heller's Movie Review of "Seabiscuit"


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Bridges Maguire Cooper
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Link To Movies/film-ratings.html Link To Movies/film-ratings.html Seabiscuit, the true story of a knobby-kneed racehorse and three men down on their luck, is the latest Docu-Epic from Hollywood, beautifully filmed in California, with its signature late-afternoon golden light, close-up intimate shots of emotional facial expressions, and the freedom-like feeling anyone gets when watching a horse run freely in a pasture. It's the telling of an American dream: a depression-era drama about down-trodden misfits and an unlikely animal hero who overcome the odds. Yes, this two-hour and twenty minute cinematic masterpiece is sure to grab the public by their little heartstrings, and send them tearfully home with hankies and sniffles, proud to be a member of that great expanse of land between the oceans known as…. America.

Ahem. Ok, the more sober description goes this way: Laura Hillenbrand's wonderfully-crafted book about the race-horse, Seabiscuit, is going to be this year's mid-summer blockbuster.

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Tobey Maguire (1)
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It's not a terrible movie by the home stretch of the imagination, but like my early characterization, "Seabiscuit" is a huge glorification of a documentary intended only to show the best side of an otherwise ratty bunch of well-meaning characters. Jeff Bridges leads the pack as Charles Howard, the flamboyant bicycle repairman-turned-millionaire, who purchases Seabiscuit at the behest of his recently hired trainer, Tom Smith, played by Chris Cooper. Smith, a sort of horse whisperer who was known for his quiet nature and his ability to get along with horses better than people, meets Red Pollard, the infamous jockey, played by Tobey McGuire, who reportedly lost 25 pounds to fill the part. Seabiscuit and the three men, all down and out underdogs with their independent and wretched pasts, all helped revive each other through Seabiscuit, and give the American people a reason to hope during the Great Depression.

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Chris Cooper
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The movie is another retelling of a timeless theme that always wins with audiences: good-guy losers beating the odds. When you mix a sure-fire premise with gorgeous cinematography, you can't lose. And this movie won't lose either. But that doesn't mean the movie is as good as the reviews - or the box office - will claim it is. The main problem with the film is that it tries to serve two masters. That is, it's both a documentary and a dramatic Hollywood big-screen Epic. The movie's "documentary" aspect leaves a lot of things out, and ends on a great, wonderful, victorious event, despite the real story ending quite differently. Similarly, the film's "drama" suffers, because it leaves out the deeper and more
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Filming Horserace
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disturbing character flaws and relationships that truly fleshed out the characters. The film does manage to stir emotions about a profoundly difficult era with a historian-narrated commentary, and photos to boot, but the context doesn't translate well to how the characters think or behave. In short, the movie's parts are all great, but they don't tie together well-enough as a whole.

All in all, Seabiscuit is a really good-looking film, with great lighting, epic-like proportions, terrific acting, but there is nothing really interesting about the film except for the story itself, which is better told by Hillenbrand's book.

You can find this movie on the internet database here: http://us.imdb.com/Title?0329575

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Jeff Bridges
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War Admiral Seabiscuit
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Tobey Maguire (3)
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Tobey Maguire (2)
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