Seabiscuit (PG-13)

Drama 140 July 25, 2003
By Amy Taubin
Adapted from Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling nonfiction page turner, this period drama is basically a rescue fantasy about three wounded men and a broken-down, knobby-kneed horse who inspire one another to come back against impossible odds. The problem is that director Gary Ross (Pleasantville) is so focused on the relationship of the owner (Jeff Bridges), the trainer (Chris Cooper), and the jockey (Tobey Maguire) that he keeps shunting the horse into the background or out of the picture entirely. Even worse, almost every choice that Ross makes in the racing scenes--cutting away from the match race to show us '30s photographs of families clustered around their radios, for example--is guaranteed to disrupt our adrenaline flow. If you factor in the dead weight of Randy Newman's sappy score and the folksy voiceover narration, you'll appreciate how fine the line is between what's referred to in Hollywood as "an Academy picture" and a historical documentary on PBS. (Amy Taubin)
Gary Ross Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Elizabeth Banks, Chris Cooper, William H. Macy Laura Hillenbrand, Charlie Mitchell Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Gary Ross, Jane Sindell Universal Pictures


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