Seabiscuit is a sports film with a heart, featuring great race sequences and a wonderful story of how three men in search of family found it in an unlikely source.Based on Laura Hillenbrands best-selling novel, the film is the true story of one of horseracings biggest legends. Seabiscuit was a middle-of-the-road thoroughbred who blossomed into a superstar as a 4-year-old, and in the process, captured the imagination of a country battling through the Great Depression.The horses rise came at the expense of three distinctly different men. Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges) was a West coast auto tycoon, whose first marriage collapsed after his son died. Red Pollard (Tobey Maguire) was an oversized jockey abandoned by his family, who struggled to get by riding horses in the day and boxing at night. Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) was a mustang breaker much more comfortable with life on the open range.The trios success with the horse is as unlikely as the success of the horse. The film shows how these four underdogs were embraced during a time when the country was struggling financially.Seabiscuit features some brilliantly filmed race sequences. This is as close to the action without actually being the jockey, and the scenes are breathtaking. There is clearly a respect of the sport that you can see in Gary Ross direction, and its refreshing to see a sports film that respectful.The performances are very good as well. This may be Bridges best performance since The Fabulous Baker Boys. Cooper continues to prove why he is perhaps Americas most underrated character actor. Maguire at first glance doesnt seem right for the role of Pollard, but as the film progresses, he becomes more and more believable.There are some fine supporting performances as well. Elizabeth Banks takes what could have been a throwaway role as Howards second wife and makes it memorable. Real-life jockey Gary Stevens, who also served as an adviser on the race sequences, makes a lasting impression as a rival jockey. If Stevens wants to make the transition from jockey to actor when he retires, he proves in Seabiscuit that he is capable of doing it.Sports movies tend to be one of the toughest genres to be successful, because its the formula most easily buried by silly clichs. Seabiscuit breaks through that barrier and as a result, proves to be one of 2003s best American-made films. Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton warns all readers not to believe a certain e-mail hoax about free movie tickets with the purchase of sea-biscuits at Red Lobster, Captain Ds or any other seafood restaurant. To find out more, or simply to comment on Mikes reviews, e-mail him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.

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