Seabiscuit ★½

Insipid studio product using the real story of the famous Depression-era racehorse as a springboard for overlong and generic emoting from the likes of Tobey Maguire and Jeff Bridges, both of whom betray so much phoniness it's like watching a political convention, though neither is as bad as William H. Macy's infuriating cutesy-pie cameo as a fast-talking radio announcer. Chris Cooper, a better actor than all of the above, only acquits himself by barely saying or doing anything. The film has an overall feel of nauseating smugness, absolutely convinced of its own greatness and profundity, like Ross' Pleasantville but much more so, and even more like other dire "hopeful" sport pictures of the post-9/11 period such as Cinderella Man, with the same inauthentic prettiness to its period flavor. Randy Newman's incredibly vapid score doesn't help, aiding and abetting Ross in his refusal to let the audience fill in any kind of blank for themselves. The result is that the basically inoffensive nature of this story is so excessively underlined and hand-holdy and just fake (and long, don't forget long) that it comes to feel assaultive. Studios don't really churn out faux-inspirational prestige product like this anymore, and whatever the troubling reasons, that's a net gain for our society.

Narrated by David McCullough, of all people, and as condescendingly as you'd expect.