Andrew Garfield, Mahershala Ali, Ruth Negga, and five others received their first-ever acting nominations for 2017. While these actors are new to the Academy Awards, you may recognize them from their earlier work.
Madison, Indiana, 1971. The Ohio river port is in full economic decline, its last pride and obsession being its uniquely town-owned power boat, although the raggedy old donation from a millionaire decades ago never comes close to a win. With his doted son Mike as most devoted fan, air-conditioner repairman Jim McCormick, who had to stop piloting it after a near-fatal accident, devotes all his 'spare' time to it, turning down professional opportunities as that would mean moving, as his wife suggests. Things climax when he realizes the town will either be scrapped from the national racing circuit or host the Gold Cup itself, requiring $50,000 fund raising. Written by
The sub-plot involving Jim McCormick's relationship with a young driver, played by Richard Lee Jackson, was based on McCormick's real life friendship with George "Skipp" Walther. Walther was fatally injured at Miami Marine Stadium in 1974 while testing the McCormick owned Red Man hydroplane. See more »
During the opening shot of Miss Madison making a test run, the driver has a white helmet and in other shots of the same run, the driver has an orange helmet. See more »
Adult Mike McCormick:
Why is it that everything important that happens to you when you're a kid, happens during the summer? In the summer of 1971 I was ten years old, and the only thing I looked forward to more than the last day of school, was the first day of practice of the hydroplane racing season. You could say Madison kids were born into racing, the same way some folks were born into the oil business or farming.
See more »
This is, to my knowledge, the only feature film ever to be made about professional boat racing. And it tells what is probably the most compelling story the sport has ever produced: how the little river town of Madison, Indiana, came to host the 1971 APBA Gold Cup race (the sport's equivalent of the Indy 500) and how driver Jim McCormick struggled to lead Madison's community-owned racing boat, the Miss Madison, into the race.
As a sports movie, "Madison" feels fairly similar to the Disney baseball movie, "The Rookie", which came out a few years ago. It places the sports story squarely within the context of family life, and its fundamental message is that of the value of community--especially small-town communities like Madison. (Hoosier rocker John "Small Town" Mellencamp even provides the narration for the movie.) Since this is a story about small-town underdogs taking on the big city favorites, it resembles other Indiana sports movies in many ways--"Breaking Away", "Rudy", "Hoosiers", etc. Its storyline is not really unique in that respect. But the movie is reasonably well done, and it really pulls you into the excitement of boat racing in the final sequence, through some really nice cinematography.
I guess I can't help but feel like there was a missed opportunity here, though. It is unlikely that there will ever be another movie made about professional boat racing, so it would have been nice if "Madison" could have taught us more about what makes the people who are involved in the sport tick. There is one interesting comment made towards the end of the film about how "only someone who's raced boats can understand why so many men have given their lives for the sport." There was a lot behind that statement, I think--especially when made in reference to a sport which has such a notoriously dangerous reputation as boat racing. I just wish I could have come away from this movie with an even better understanding of where it came from.
Besides that...this is a nice little movie, and a fine tribute to Jim McCormick and the people of Madison. Go ahead and take your kids to it, and don't forget to stick around for the final credits...
6 of 9 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?