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Madison Reviews

Even though it's based on a true story, writer-director William Bindley and his cowriting brother, Scott, manage to squeeze just about every sports-movie clich&#233 ever invented into this tale of how the tiny town of Madison, Ind., was saved by a hydroplane boat race. By 1971, the once-bustling Ohio River port town of Madison, whose winning hydroplaning team is now just a memory, has become a picturesque relic of bygone days. The sharp decline in barge shipping has sent many residents to bigger towns in search of work, and corporate sponsorships have boosted newer, sleeker boats beyond the limited capabilities of the community-owned Miss Madison. But Madison native Jim McCormick (James Caviezel) isn't ready to give up on either the beloved hydroplane or his hometown. Once an up-and-coming driver who refused a job with a Seattle team before a serious accident ended his hydroplaning days for good, Jim agrees to manage the Miss Madison crew, much to the dismay of his wife, Bonnie (Mary McCormack), who wants Jim to take a job in Indianapolis. Jim sees each race as a contest between populist small-town values and big-money corporate arrogance, epitomized by the likes of Miss Budweiser's crew. And he's not just being sensitive: In an effort to clear room for the wealthy San Diego Racing Club on the upcoming Gold Cup championship's roster, the chairman of the American Power Boat Association attempts to edge Madison out of the running by picking the impoverished town to host the race, certain that they couldn't possibly come up with $50,000 in prize money. Jim, however, takes him up on the challenge and writes a check on the spot. Covering the check is another matter, and just one of problems Jim faces in the weeks leading up to the Gold Cup. He must also find a new driver, rebuild Miss Madison after the nitrous oxide-injection system installed by Jim's mechanic (Bruce Dern) explodes, and restore the waning faith of his young son, Mike (Jake Lloyd). There are few things less interesting to adult audiences than the angst of 8-year-olds, and the Bindley brothers waste far too much screen time on Mike's moping around on one dock or another. As a result, this otherwise amiable family film plods whenever the action returns to dry land. Caviezel, most memorably seen hanging from a cross in THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, is a bland performer, but no more so than say, Kevin Costner, who once based his career on such dreamer roles but carries a far less palatable edge.