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Running Time:
140 minutes

Rating: PG-13 Parents Strongly Cautioned.

Rating Explanation:
for some sexual situations and violent sports-related images

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
This is one of the best films of 2003 and a real crowd pleaser. It's not full of explosions, car chases and computer-generated effects, but it's exciting and entertaining.

Additional Info:
DVD Features: "Seabiscuit: Racing Through History": Historic newsreel footage of actual races and numerous interviews, including interviews with director Gary Ross and author Laura Hillenbrand; "Anatomy of a Movie Moment": Director Gary Ross shares his step-by-step filmmaking process of one sequence from script to screen (DVD exclusive); "Photo Finish: Jeff Bridges' On the Set Photographs": Actor and longtime photographer Jeff Bridges presents his own personal selection of photographs made during the filming of Seabiscuit; "Bringing the Legend to Life: The Making of Seabiscuit": In-depth guided tour of the filmmaking process from sets to casting, costumes, and more; Feature commentary with director Gary Ross and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh.

While the four-hundred page book by Laura Hillenbrand goes into considerably more detail, writer-director Gary Ross has balanced the need for character exposition with the requirements of good drama in this film which is neatly narrated in a typically PBS manner by the author/historian David McCulloch. Most of the first hour is spent following three men, each damaged by a life-shattering loss. Johnny "Red" Pollard (Tobey Maguire) is a kid who learns how to ride horses really well. When his Irish immigrant family loses everything, they are only too willing to abandon their boy to the vagabond life of a jockey and later a prizefighter. He not too good at either. Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) is a cowboy who sees civilization gobbling up the range, and finds work in Wild West shows. He winds up hanging around racetracks and finds that he can calm stubborn horses like no one else. Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges), is a wealthy car dealer, who takes a major hit when the stock market crashes, but it's the death of his son in an auto accident, that crushes him. His wife files for divorce, but in time he marries Marcela (Elizabeth Banks) and decides to buy a horse. Ironically he'd said that he wouldn't pay $5 for the best horse in town, but then he buys the improbably small Seabiscuit who on his first round on the practice track looks like a two-months' old puppy seeing the outdoors for the first time. The film really comes to life when the three men get together to figure out how to get the sad little horse to win races. The music score by Randy Newman is excellent: building up to a crescendo during the races but low-key and often sentimental in between; and cinematographer John Schwartzman takes us closer to the track than most of us will ever get. Mostly it's the actors who dominate the film with beautifully nuanced performances. Beside the three leads, real-life jockey Gary Stevens in a stunning film debut, plays the role of George Woolf, who takes over for Pollard during the latter's recovery from an accident, Elizabeth Banks is fine as Howard's second wife Marcela, and best of all is William H. Macy providing comic relief as Tick Tock McGlaughlin, a radio track reporter with a sound studio filled with sound effects, booze and a patter Walter Winchell would have envied.

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