There are four main characters, all shattered by life but fighting back when given another chance to prove themselves. Red Pollard (Maguire) has a huge chip on his shoulder after being sold to a horse trainer (Bottoms) by his desperate parents during the Great Depression. Even though he's far too tall, he has a way with the horses. Charles Howard (Bridges) is an inventive entrepreneur, heading West to make his fortune and becoming very wealthy through sheer tenacity. But a deep personal loss is far worse than the Crash of '29, and he puts his energies into managing a racehorse with his young wife Marcela (Banks). Tom Smith (Cooper) is a grizzled Wild West has-been, still harking back to natural, earthy methods of horse-training and unable to get a job until Howard spots his talent. And last but certainly not least, Seabiscuit is a desperate loser of a racehorse. He has the pedigree, but he looks ridiculous--no style, too short, too many injuries. Still, Smith spots the spirit in his eyes, Pollard bonds with him deeply and Howard makes sure he becomes one of the most unlikely sporting heroes in American history.
This real story is almost unbelievably cinematic with its underdogs triumphing against adversity and expectations over and over again. And Ross cleverly applies a vintage style to the film, complete with newsreel narration (voiced by David McCullogh) and a bright spark of comic relief in radio journalist Tick Tock McGlauchlin (Macy). But the stroke of genius is to include Seabiscuit as a real character, drawing out his personality and making his story the central current in a film about four losers who triumph over some sort of disability. Yes, it's sentimental and sweet--sometimes overwhelmingly so--but it's also gripping and stunningly well made, with a fantastic collection of Oscar-calibre performances from Maguire, Bridges, Cooper and Macy (while very good, Banks is the only off note, because her character appears to be Mexican and yet she so isn't!). These are all characters we can identify with, right up to the insanely amazing comeback we all long for.
dir-scr Gary Ross|
with Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Gary Stevens, William H Macy, Kingston DuCoeur, Sam Bottoms, Ed Lauter, Gianni Russo, Valerie Mahaffey, Paige King
release US 25.Jul.03; UK 31.Oct.03
A tale of four underdogs: Maguire.
See also: Q&A with Tobey Maguire
|"This movie has been at the box office for a while, and after seeing it, I can see why. This is based on a true story, and I have to say it is well done on the screen. You gotta go see this on the big screen - a wonderful movie! what more can I say? We both got lumps in our throats in parts, and cheered in others - I loved the way they showed the jockeys' point of vision - and I gotta wonder, do they really talk to each other like that when riding?" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 6.Sep.03|
Tobey: I talked to Gary Ross about how it was all going to be done, and although I was on a racehorse and I did get to gallop, I was never in the most dangerous situations. You know these guys are professional jockeys and I donít belong in a tight pack with them!
On his favourite horse...
On working with first-time actor jockey Gary Stevens...
On weighing 115 pounds...