Seabiscuit (2003)

(On DVD, January 2004) It’s a movie about a horse. Yes, it’s well directed, and it’s got a few interesting moments here and there. But in almost any aspect, it’s old fashioned. A film that your grandparents would love, had your grandparents been Americans. The dialogue, directing, cinematography, values… good, but unremarkable. Even “the future” so triumphantly promised in the film is comfortably in our own past. Yes, the horse is a metaphor for depression-era America. Get over it. Tobey Maguire is indifferent as Seabiscuit’s jockey. Far more interesting are Jeff Bridges as his rich employer and Chris Cooper as a tough horse trainer. Otherwise, well, there isn’t much to say about the film: the making-of featurettes included on the DVD are nearly more interesting than the film itself, as they describe how some of the horse-racing scenes were shots and how the writer/director adapted the original book into a script, and then into a series of shots. The true history of Seabiscuit is also quite interesting, though it ends along with the film and not at the true end of the road for this horse and its humans. (The end of their story was, shall we say, rather darker than a Hollywood movie ending.) This is a completely safe family film experience. No edge… but apparently it was good enough for Oscar nominations.

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