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by Peter Sobczynski

"Jesus and Darth Vader-together for the first time!"
3 stars

The release of “Madison” marks the end of an era–it is the last film that Jim Caviezel made pre-“The Passion of the Christ” to get a reprieve from the shelf because of his new-found stardom. Unlike the others–“Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius” and “I Am David”–it is just good enough to actually deserve its better-late-than-never release.

The film tells the based-on-a-true-story saga in which Caviezel plays a man who tries to revitalize his dying Indiana town by not only bringing the 1971 American Power Boat Association Gold Cup Regatta to town, but by defeating the heavily-funded corporate teams with his ramshackle, community-owned boat. With the aid of his family and friends, including son Jake Lloyd, understanding wife Mary McCormack and whiz mechanic Bruce Dern, he overcomes all obstacles and pilots his boat to victory. If you think that I have unforgivably spoiled the ending for you, consider the fact that if he hadn’t won the race, they probably wouldn’t have made a movie about it.

Going in, I was expecting a predictable and overly earnest melodrama–I imagined “Rudy” with hydro-plane power boats–in which Jesus and the young Darth Vader would triumph over adversity. That is exactly what I got and you know what? I didn’t really mind it all that much. Sure it is corny, sentimental and somewhat goody-goody (when a character goes off drinking to drown his sorrows here, he quaffs a black cow), but it is done with such sincerity and good feeling that I found myself far more interested in the proceedings that I could have possibly expected.

It isn’t a great work of art and it is one of those things that will probably look more at home in the smaller dimensions of televisions, but as inspirational sports-related dramas go, I’ll take this over the bombast of “Coach Carter” any time.

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originally posted: 04/22/05 22:06:24
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  22-Apr-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 13-Sep-2005



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