McCarthy said the film's effort to remain true to the book "takes the form of a choppy and slow-to-involve first act." He also points out that Seabiscuit himself isn't on screen for the first 45 minutes of the movie.McCarthy compliments Gary Stevens, labeling his role "a confident first acting gig," but overall, seems neutral on the film."Observing the tale from the long view of history, and saddling it with ennobling narration about the Depression from historian David McCullough and a far too inspiriational/sentimental score by Randy Newman, gives the picture a somewhat embalmed quality that drains a gripping yarn of immediacy and excitement."McCarthy's review is available online for $2.95 at www.variety.com. Seabiscuit opens nationwide July 25.
This Saturday fans will start lining up to see Seabiscuit--there are special charity screenings almost every day between July 19 and the July 25 official opening of the film--but many film critics have already seen the 140 minute production. Two of Hollywood's trade journals, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety have already passed judgment on the film, which is based on Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling book which chronicles the life of the 1938 Horse of the Year and his connections.Of the two reviews, Kirk Honeycutt's in Hollywood Reporter was more positive of the two. "Seabiscuit aims to be a crowd pleaser, and for the most part it is," said Honeycutt. "Thanks to smart performances by Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, and Chris Cooper and numerous exciting racing sequences, Seabiscuit written and directed by Gary Ross, has the legs of a boxoffice champ. Given that Hollywood is mired in a summer league of extraordinary visual effects and very ordinary sequels, this sentimental flag-waving feels like welcome relief."Honeycutt's main criticism was the lack of development of Red Pollard's character and life. Due to space and time considerations, the story of Red Pollard's marriage, which was detailed in the book, was not included in the movie version. "Cinematography, the horse action and period details are top drawer," Honeycutt concludes. "Mostly though, actors dominate with finely nuanced performances where every scene feels dramatically right."Click here to read the entire review from The Hollywood Reporter.Todd McCarthy of Variety wasn't as moved. McCarthy gave praises for a careful recollection of historical fact by filmmakers, and gorgeous photography, but said, "Seabiscuit is respectable when it should be thrilling, honorable when it should be rough and ready."