The well-shot races are genuinely thrilling; the period details perfect. Maguire leads an impeccable cast, with humour from William H. Macy as an excitable radio announcer. Great, classic storytelling.
For his sophomore effort, director Gary Ross re-teams with Tobey Maguire and William H. Macy, stars of his directorial debut Pleasantville, for this depression-era sports drama about the legendary racehorse, Seabiscuit. Unlike 1949's fictionalized The Story of Seabiscuit starring Shirley Temple, this version attempts to present a factual account of the story, which centers around the three men who saw the famed horse to victory. Jeff Bridges stars as Charles Howard, an entrepreneur who owns the unlikely racehorse. Howard teams with partially blind boxer-turned-jockey Red Pollard (Maguire in his first performance since annihilating the 2002 box-office in Spider-Man) and horse trainer Tom Smith (Chris Cooper fresh off his best-supporting actor Oscar for Adaptation). Together, the three work to help the famed horse to several symbolic victories that helped to inspire a downtrodden 1930s America. The supporting cast, headed by Macy, includes Elizabeth Banks (Spider-Man) and real-life jockeys Gary Stevens and Chris McCarron.
Not only was this film entertaining and moving, it was beautifully shot. The script contrasts America's troubled decline during the depression followed by its hopeful climb from despair with the fortunes of a racehorse and the men who believed in him. It's a fine, exciting tale, but its also an uplifting allegory about the American Dream. Fine performances from Chris Cooper, Jeff Bridges and Toby Maguire hold the film together. But the real star is Laura Hillenbrand's book and the fine adapted screenplay. The racing scenes are gloriously filmed; rich in color and movement.