Seabiscuit Movie Poster Image




An inspiring story for teens and up.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: December 14, 2003
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2003
  • Running Time: 140 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Recognition of talent and excellence beyond outside appearances is a theme of the movie.


Bloody prizefighting, desertion of child by parents, off-screen death of a child. Sports-related peril.


Implied sexual situation, shots of a brothel.


Colorful language and swearing when angry.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Social drinking, use of alcohol to forget problems. Lots of smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Red's parents are forced by their reduced circumstances to give him to someone who owns a stable and who offers to put Red up as a jockey. His parents' unexpected abandonment scars him and might frighten younger viewers who, like Red, do not understand why his parents would leave him. There is an off-screen car crash which takes the life of Charles' young son, followed by shock and mourning. Also, Red tries to make some money by amateur boxing -- Red sustains significant injuries and the crowd watching the fight seems quite menacing. There is another sports-related injury which features Red resulting in a mangled leg. In addition, there are references to drinking during the Prohibition, and the radio announcer drinks quite a bit. The jockeys frequent a brothel in Mexico, where there is a scene of implied sexuality between Red and one of the ladies there.

What's the story?

Based on Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling book of the same name, SEABISCUIT depicts the equine celebrity who came to fame as the too-small, ill-tempered horse who never should have won, yet somehow managed to defeat the greatest racehorses of his day. \"Red\" Pollard (Tobey Maguire) is the too-tall jockey whose destitute family gives him to a horse racer who will give him his livelihood by putting him up on his horses. Charles Howard (Jeff Bridges), who wishes to own racehorses, seeks out a trainer with a good heart and an understanding of horses, whom he finds in the taciturn, itinerant cowhand, Tom Smith (Chris Cooper). Smith tames and heals horses while introducing Howard to the movie's leitmotif: \"you don't throw a life away just because it's a little banged up.\" Smith finds Howard his racehorse when he sees Seabiscuit, a horse who has spent the last years losing schooling races to other horses to build up their confidence. On seeing the rearing and biting misfit, most jockeys flee from the scene. However, Smith finds his jockey in Pollard and the team of people who need -- and believe in -- second chances is complete.

Is it any good?


There is a reason that good movies about sports, almost always about an underdog who overcomes obstacles to succeed, appeal to us in such a visceral fashion. Americans fiercely love athletic heroes because we want to believe that the difference really is in something beyond the physical, that it exists in a big heart and scrappy soul. Seabiscuit brings every evocative notion of the underdog out of the stable in turn but manages to make a movie with familiar themes seem as handsome as a thoroughbred, albeit one that has trouble in the homestretch.

Director Gary Ross does a yeoman's job of trying to capture varied themes in one film. If anything, the themes are kept on such tight reins and are demonstrated to the audience so often that some will find their repetition heavy-handed. Some audiences might find the parts of the movie slow going and the solemn, documentary-styled narration of PBS's own David McCullough a bit on the heavy side. Finally, it is a minor quibble but Maguire sits too heavy in the saddle to be mistaken for a real jockey. Seabiscuit has all the tension, movement and excitement audiences expect from summer flicks, but it has the added bonus of strong acting, which in the summer is often replaced by computer animation or exploding cars. It is far from perfect, but it offers good, solid, heartwarming entertainment.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the way each of the characters react to loss -- Charles with isolation and reflection, Tom with pragmatism, and Red with anger -- and how these reactions might be strengths or weaknesses or both. they should also talk about how each of the characters (including Seabiscuit) transforms the others. Each member of the family should ask, "Whose life can I change?" Families should also talk about what Charles means when he says that someone who does not know he is small can sometimes do something big.

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 25, 2003
DVD release date:December 16, 2003
Cast:Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire
Director:Gary Ross
Studio:Universal Pictures
Topics:Horses and farm animals
Run time:140 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some sexual situations and violent sports-related images

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byTsion April 9, 2008

A Moving and Well-Casted Telling of a Great Historical Tale...

Anyway, SEABISCUIT is a great movie. It is chock full of positive messages and is, in itself, an inspiring story of hope and courage. The story starts by telling the stories of three men: Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, and Tobey Maguire. By a twenty minutes into the film, their lives have intersected and one "person" (okay, maybe not a person) has connected them all. That person is Seabiscuit. Always small and full of attitude, Seabiscuit, though bred well, has never been a racing horse. All that changes as these three men come together to train him, jockey him, and own him, and somehow, each man comes out of his lonliness and sorrow to hop again. The only violence is when Maguire is pulled by a horse through all sorts of materials, resulting in a shattered leg, rendering him cripple for the rest of his life. Language is constant, with over 40 profanities, most of them "g*dd**n" or "s**t". There is a brief sexual situation to, where it is said that Maguire has payed a woman for sex. We see them in bed, both clothed, until we see the woman disrobe from the back. We then see a (due to the character's blindness in one eye) an intensely blurred front. Seabiscuit is a very good movie. If you can get past the one iffy sex scene and the language, it is bursting with lessons and morals worth hearing. And it's fun to watch. Horses really are amazing animals. Highly recommended. For more horse racing for young kids, check out DREAMER (PG).
Adult Written bybaconc April 9, 2008

Beautiful film

This is a beautiful film that is loyal to the book. Our children were 10 and 13 when they saw it with us and both were entranced by the movie. Even the film's rougher side presents great opportunities for positive lessons. More than anything, it's a story about loyalty, hard work, compassion and the beauty of a symbiotic friendship that helps three men overcome loneliness and the darkness in their lives.
Teen, 13 years old Written bySpielberg00 June 7, 2011

Should have won the Oscar. Best horse movie.

My rating: PG-13 for alcohol use, language, sports-related violence and some suggestive references.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking


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