Then they sent me one which was cracked almost in half.
Finally Netflix got me a playable copy of Seabiscuit.
Good stuff first. Superb camera work. Excellent performances by Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, William H. Macy and the incredibly attractive Elizabeth Banks. Gary Stevens, a hall of fame jockey in real life, showed he is just as good an actor as he is a horseman. The horses looked great, too.
Now the bad stuff.
I didn't really need 15 minutes of sepia toned history lessons about the Great Depression. As much as I enjoyed David McCullough's narration style, we didn't need any of that. The fact that it was Bad Times and the nation needed a hero was worked into the plot well enough as it was. In fact, they beat us over the head with that stick relentlessly during the movie.
It also irked me that the cars used in that segment were beaters, and some of the cars which they were trying to make out to be dad's sports car were actually formula racing cars of the period. Next time, stick to horses.
In one of the sepia scenes where we see our hero in a car factory repairing wheel spokes, they had several people in period costume. A fine idea, but in their effort to be period, they had men wearing hats indoors, which just wasn't done in the 30's. And they showed someone in his Sunday best, bowler included, doing machine work.
Speaking of costumes, the rider's silks for Seabiscuit's jokeys looked like they were costumes from a grade school play.
We also didn't need quite as much of the childhood of jockey Red Pollard. That section was poorly edited, jerky, and did not do enough to focus on his riding ability. The "love of books" theme is very romantic, especially since we assume Pollard dropped out of high school, but it really didn't work for me.
Just as I was getting to like Michael Angarano as the young Red Pollard, in one of the most Neanderthal pieces of film editing in the history of movies, he magically becomes Toby Maguire. Gag me. I am not a fan of Toby. Those big bug eyes, the "look ma, I'm acting!" school of drama, and his egg-shaped head. They couldn't find a real redhead? They couldn't find a real actor?
Well, no. Toby was the executive producer of this film. Which means he wanted to play the part so badly (and believe me, he played it very badly) that he sunk a chunk of his windfall from Spidermen into being assured of playing the lead in this flick.
My hat is off to his stunt rider double, Richard Bucher, who was incredible, and managed to fit in seamlessly. Well, almost. It was way too obvious after the second race that none of the close-ups of Toby at the finish line showed him on an actual horse.
On good/bad thing. Toby's scene in the Mexican brothel was opposite Camillia Sanes. He sucked, that part of the script was written by David Oreck, and they soft-pedaled the fact that Red couldn't get it up. Which raises an interesting piece of trivia. Red was shown as being a losing boxer as well as a champion jockey. So which kind of shorts did he wear? Well, in this scene he is wearing boxers. Coincidence? But my main point is Camillia looked like she is capable of a lot better than this piece-o-crap role allowed her to show. I'd like to see more of her. Heck, I'd like to see all of her.
All in all it was worth watching. I'm glad I didn't waste real money in a movie theater on it, though it would be interesting photographically to see it on a wide screen.