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SEABISCUIT

A stable cleaner and a mustang-tamer take charge of a puny horse owned by a tenacious millionaire and turn the beast into the Horse of the Year, thereby spreading cheer through America during The Great Depression.

CAST: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, William H. Macy, Gary Stevens, Sam Bottoms, Ed Lauter

DIRECTOR: Gary Ross

"There can be no doubt that Mr. Ross, the writer of ‘Big’ and ‘Dave’ and the director of ‘Pleasantville,’ has been faithful to his source…The main problem with ‘Seabiscuit,’ indeed, is a surfeit of reverence. It turns the thrilling celebration of a collection of rambunctious, maverick characters into an exercise in high-minded, responsible sentimentality…From time to time, ‘Seabiscuit’ does shake off its air of sober restraint. The racing scenes are crisply edited and genuinely exciting… But somehow we are never quite swept into the boisterous, democratic world of which Seabiscuit, in Ms. Hillenbrand's account, was the plucky, galloping embodiment…‘Seabiscuit,’ decorous to a fault, pays tribute to that spirit without partaking of it." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"Ross is the kind of filmmaker who has to turn every crisis into an affirmation, even if what’s being affirmed is dubious at best. Watching this movie, you get the feeling that the Depression existed so that Seabiscuit could be memorialized…. Compared with the poetic beauty of films like ‘The Black Stallion’ or even ‘National Velvet,’ ‘Seabiscuit’ is prosaic…Ross scripted the presidential comedy ‘Dave’ and wrote speeches for Bill Clinton, but he may have inadvertently made the first bona fide Dubya-era movie: It exalts the haves while paying lip service to the have-nots." --Peter Rainer, New York Magazine

"This is the real deal, warts and all, and since it enthralls on so many levels—emotional, cinematic, historic—if you don’t go away entertained, informed and sated with satisfaction, you need to have your pulse checked to see if you still have one…a rich and satisfying movie that honors the tradition of solid narrative filmmaking, while it illuminates a compelling true story with universal appeal in a thrilling, modern and exceptionally cinematic way." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"I found much of it as emotionally rigged as a crooked horse race…The trouble with ‘Seabiscuit’ is that writer-director Gary Ross never goes a millimeter beneath the surface of the characters. He substitutes a superficial brand of ‘uplift’ and ‘inspiration’ for a thoughtful look at what made this undersized horse and his dedicated handlers so special…Even with its lengthy running time of well over two hours, ‘Seabiscuit’ swerves around social and psychological matters as resolutely as the title character weaves his way into winning position almost every time he runs." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"It's an honorable effort, best when the horses are on the screen, less sure-footed with its humans and fated to find more favor with newcomers who have not read Hillenbrand's book or seen the excellent PBS documentary. The film's great frustration is that it has taken this superb true story and made it feel too much like a movie. A well-crafted movie, but a movie nevertheless… It is not as exceptional a film as the reality deserves, but with a story this strong and races this expertly re-created, it squeezes out a victory by being as good a movie as it needs to be." --Kenneth Turan, The Los Angeles Times

"The story of Seabiscuit, the ugly little horse that could, is a great American story. It's about second chances, faith, heart and a little spin-doctoring…It's a stirring story, and screenwriter-director-producer Gary Ross takes every opportunity to wave the flag…Even viewers who are indifferent to horse racing cannot fail to feel the pulse pound along with the hoofbeats…Yes, it's a bit hokey, but if you fight the movie's gait you'll miss the excitement of the race." --Jami Bernard, The New York Daily News

"In tick-tock fashion, adversity and triumph alternate with a metronomic regularity throughout this stately ‘Seabiscuit.’ Lacking the element of surprise, Ross goes in for pageantry: ‘Seabiscuit’ is awash in fastidiously turned-out period clothes and theatrical sets, including a sanitized Mexican bordello fit for a Lupe Velez musical…there isn't a spontaneous moment in the whole picture. This often happens when movies are laboring this hard to be a classic. With its ennobling Ken Burns spirit and picturesque gaze at hard times, ‘Seabiscuit’ feels like it's taking place somewhere in Smithsonian Institution heaven." --Jan Stuart, Newsday

"...a thrilling, beautifully crafted, fact-based horse story that's not merely the summer's finest movie, but may well be the one to catch come Academy Awards time... the real find here is real-life jockey Gary Stevens, who steals scenes as George Woolf, the rider who takes over the reins from his injured pal Pollard. The eight Thoroughbreds who play the title character probably rate an Oscar of their own for headlining 'Seabiscuit,' virtually the only mainstream product Hollywood can hold its head up high for all season." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post

"More mystical than mysterious, ‘Seabiscuit’ is a proudly cornball sentimental epic—a reverential paean to a vanished America that's steeped in inspirational uplift and played for world-historical pathos. Remarkable in its trajectory and bizarre in its details, the story scarcely needs such strenuous contextualization…For all the fastidious periodizing, ‘Seabiscuit’ is a movie of its moment—a tale of personal rehabilitation. Charles remains traumatized by his son's death; Tom is near autistic in his resistance to human contact; Red has ongoing abandonment issues. All are cured through exposure to the once abused and no longer ‘bitter’ Seabiscuit." --J. Hoberman, The Village Voice

"‘Seabiscuit’ superficially and naively underscores the many trials and tribulations of its titular racehorse with scenes of American underdevelopment…The implication here is that Seabiscuit soothed deflated American spirits, but Ross only succeeds in romanticizing horseracing and the sorrows of the American people…it’s difficult to get past the desperate historical contextualization, the queasy Randy Newman score and a corny narrative that plays out like a high school history report drunk on one too many metaphors" --Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

"The nation needed something to believe in. And in the somewhat simplified calculus of the movie, both Seabiscuit and Roosevelt's New Deal, more or less in that order, were a shot in the American arm…I liked the movie a whole lot without quite loving it…I saw people crying after ‘Seabiscuit’…It's yet more evidence for my theory that people more readily cry at movies not because of sadness, but because of goodness and courage." --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"In ‘Seabiscuit," Gary Ross's bright, uplifting adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's runaway bestseller, a horse becomes the country's brave, resilient ride to a greater destiny. Yes, it's that cheesy, but it's also surprisingly appealing…The movie is so rigged for Hollywood glory, producer-writer-director Ross can hardly miss. To his credit, Ross attempts to raise the movie a few notches above convention… Maguire (trimmed down to near anorexic slimness) produces a wild-eyed, highly strung performance as Pollard. Cooper, who has the smallest principal role, makes every moment count. Bridges seems to have been born for his part." --Desson Howe, The Washington Post