Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gary Ross|
|Screenplay by||Gary Ross|
|Based on||Seabiscuit: An American Legend|
by Laura Hillenbrand
|Narrated by||David McCullough|
|Music by||Randy Newman|
|Edited by||William Goldenberg|
|Box office||$148.3 million|
Seabiscuit is a 2003 American sports film co-produced, written and directed by Gary Ross and based on the best-selling 1999 non-fiction book Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand. The film is loosely based on the life and racing career of Seabiscuit, an undersized and overlooked Thoroughbred race horse, whose unexpected successes made him a hugely popular media sensation in the United States during the Great Depression. Seabiscuit was nominated for seven Academy Awards.
Three men, Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire), Charles S. Howard (Jeff Bridges), and Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) come together as the principal jockey, owner, and trainer of the champion race horse Seabiscuit, rising from individual troubled times to achieve fame and success through their association with the horse.
Red's Canadian family is financially ruined by the Great Depression. Desperately needing money, his parents find Red a work situation with a horse trainer. Red eventually becomes a jockey and makes extra money through illegal boxing matches, leaving him blind in one eye. Howard runs a bicycle shop. A passing motorist asks him to repair his automobile, a new technology. Seeing an opportunity, Howard begins selling automobiles, eventually becoming the largest car dealer in California and one of the Bay Area's richest men. When his young son, Frankie, is killed in an automobile accident, Howard falls into a deep depression, eventually resulting in his wife (Valerie Mahaffey) leaving him.
While in Mexico to obtain a divorce, he meets Marcela Zabala (Elizabeth Banks). After marrying Marcela, Howard acquires a stable of race horses. He has a chance encounter with skilled horse trainer and drifter Tom Smith. Howard hires Smith to manage his stables. Smith convinces Howard to acquire a colt, "Seabiscuit", who comes from noted lineage but had been deemed "incorrigible" by past handlers.
Smith has difficulty finding a jockey able to handle Seabiscuit's temperament. After witnessing Red Pollard brawling with other stable boys, Smith sees a similar temperament to the feisty horse and hires Red as Seabiscuit's jockey. Seabiscuit and Pollard become close, and they begin to race. After overcoming early difficulties, such as a dismissive media and Pollard's anger issues and blind eye, Seabiscuit earns considerable success and becomes a popular underdog to the millions affected by the Great Depression. Inspired, Howard challenges New York tycoon Samuel Riddle (Eddie Jones) and his champion race horse, "War Admiral", to a match race. Riddle eventually relents, but on his terms. As the date approaches, Pollard is injured in a riding accident, severely fracturing his leg. Unable to ride, Red recommends Howard get his old friend, George Woolf (Gary Stevens) to ride Seabiscuit in the match race.
Before the race, Red advises Woolf on Seabiscuit's handling and behavior. He tells Wolfe to allow War Admiral to catch up in the far turn, and let Seabiscuit look War Admiral in the eye before turning him him loose. Later Seabiscuit is racing at Santa Anita and injures his leg. Red helps Seabiscuit to recover while also getting himself fit enough to race again. The last race is again the Santa Anita Handicap. Red is the jockey, using a self-made brace on his leg. Woolf is riding a different horse. Seabiscuit has a bad break from the gate and drops far behind the pack. Woolf pulls alongside Red, lets Seabiscuit get a good look at his mount. Seabiscuit, challenged, surges ahead and wins the race.
- Tobey Maguire as John "Red" Pollard
- Jeff Bridges as Charles S. Howard
- Chris Cooper as Tom Smith
- Elizabeth Banks as Marcela Zabala-Howard
- Gary Stevens as George Woolf
- William H. Macy as "Tick Tock" McLaughlin
- Eddie Jones as Samuel Riddle
The film was shot at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky and Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York. Keeneland doubled for Pimlico Race Course because Pimlico had dramatically changed physically since Seabiscuit's time. Additional filming took place in Hidden Valley, California. The film also marks a second collaboration between director Gary Ross and actors Tobey Maguire and William H. Macy, who worked together in Ross's 1998 film Pleasantville.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 77% based on 203 reviews, with an average rating of 7.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A life-affirming, if saccharine, epic treatment of a spirit-lifting figure in sports history". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 72 out of 100, based on 43 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade A on scale of A to F.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3.5 out of 4, and wrote: "The movie's races are thrilling because they must be thrilling; there's no way for the movie to miss on those, but writer-director Gary Ross and his cinematographer, John Schwartzman, get amazingly close to the action."
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- "Seabiscuit (2003)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved August 21, 2009.
- "Seabiscuit". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
- "Seabiscuit Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved October 15, 2019.
- "SEABISCUIT (2003) A". CinemaScore. Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
- Ebert, Roger. "Seabiscuit movie review & film summary (2003)". Chicago Sun-Times.
- "The 76th Academy Awards (2004) Nominees and Winners". Oscars.org. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved November 20, 2011.
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved August 14, 2016.