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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 year that the film was set in was significant for a number of things: for being the first and only time that a community-owned boat has ever won the Gold Cup. It also broke the Rolls-Royce powered boat dominance of the APBA's Crown Jewel race as an Allison powered boat had not won a race since 1966. The race marked the end of an era in terms of boat design, as the Miss Madison of 1971 was the last Unlimited hydroplane with the old-style rear cockpit-forward-engine, shovel-nosed bow configuration to ever achieve victory. See more »
Early in the movie, The Space Needle is shown in an aerial shot prior to the 1971 races in Seattle. The Kingdom is visible in the background. The stadium didn't open until 1976 and ground wasn't even broken on construction until November of 1972. See more »
This turned out to be a "sleeper," a good film that few people have heard of, I suspect, outside of Madison, Indiana. Being in an area that used to host hydroplane races, it intrigued me. I also usually enjoy movies that star Jim Caviezel.
Mainly, this was a nice film with a feel-good David vs. Goliath story based on a real-life occurrence back in 1971. It involves the sport of hydroplane racing, meaning extremely fast boats raced in different bodies of water around the USA. A town nearby where I live used to have these, but I haven't heard of them in decades.
Anyway, this story takes place in a small Indiana town that was on the skids by 1970 but plants closing all the time and people moving elsewhere. The hopes of its boat, "Miss Madison" also seem to be about lost until, as fate would have it, the town is awarded the opportunity to host the "Gold Cup," the biggest event of the sport.
A string of failures, followed by new disasters, include the death of the pilot, near-death of another one and the boat being just about totaled in the process. How the town - led by former racer "Jim McCormick" (Caviezel) - can raise the money to resurrect the town, the boat and the driver himself, are all shown here. McCormick not only has to pull off several miracles but also try to win the support of his wife and son, who have had their fill of disappointments with this sport.
The film winds up being a sports movie and a drama about a family, a team of workers and an entire small town trying to pull together and beat tremendous odds. I have to use two clichés here: it's a heartwarming story and, yes, it's a good family movie. You don't have to worry about offensive material. It reminds me, in spots, of a made-for-TV movie. It kind of plays old-fashioned corny but in a way that makes you glad you watched it.
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