Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5. USA, 2003. Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Spyglass Entertainment, Larger Than Life Productions, The Kennedy/Marshall Company. Screenplay by Gary Ross, based on the book by Lauren Hillenbrand. Cinematography by John Schwartzman. Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Gary Ross, Jane Sindell. Music by Randy Newman. Production Design by Jeannine Oppewall. Costume Design by Judianna Makovsky. Film Editing by William Goldenberg. Academy Awards 2003. Golden Globe Awards 2003. National Board of Review Awards 2003.
What do an abandoned horse jockey, a grieving millionaire car manufacturer and an unemployed horse whisperer have in common? Fate, for it seems that it will bring them together to be a part of the success of a racehorse who will symbolize the hope of Depression-era America. After losing his son in a crash, car magnate Jeff Bridges loses all interest in life until a new marriage and a new hobby at the racetrack bring him back again. Investing in an undersized, temperamental horse named Seabiscuit, he races the animal with an oversized jockey (Tobey Maguire) and wins a whole slew of races throughout the country. Trainer Chris Cooper is on hand to manage the operation, and the three of them discover that this little horse is capable of taking them all the way to the top. Hardships are not to be ignored, however, and the team encounters quite a few setbacks before their glory in the film’s giant climax. This bloated epic is more appropriate than exceptional; the performances are strong, the photography beautiful, the sound design rich and Randy Newman’s musical score emotional. The lengthy running time allows for lots of background information on all the main characters, but they still remain rather unidimensional and not all that interesting. The only main female characters are practically cookie-cutter imprints, and the outcome of the story too predictable to be inspiring. Still, period detail (thanks to Jeannine Oppewall’s as-usual excellent production design) brings the Depression era to life vividly, and Gary Ross’s dialogue is excellent even when his plotting is not.