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
As of 2016, this is the last film to star Jake Lloyd. See more »
The film depicted the schedule as follows; Miami, Florida; Chicago; Seattle, Dayton, and Madison. The actual schedule of 1971 was as follows: Miami, Florida; Washington, DC, Owensboro, Kentucky; Detroit, Michigan; Madison, Indiana; Tri City, Washington; Seattle, Washington; Dexter, Oregon; Dallas, Texas. No races occurred in Chicago at the year the film took place. 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.
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Good--if you know absolutely NOTHING about hydro racing.
Madison is not too bad-if you like simplistic, non-offensive, "family-friendly" fare and, more importantly, if you know absolutely nothing about unlimited hydroplane racing. If, like me, you grew up with the sport and your heroes had names like Musson, Muncey, Cantrell, Slovak, etc., prepare to be disappointed.
Professional film critics have commented at length on the formulaic nature of the film and its penchant for utilizing every hackneyed sports cliché in the book. I needn't repeat what they've said. What I felt was sadly missing was any sense of the real excitement of unlimited hydro racing in the "glory years" (which many would argue were already past in 1971).
Yes, it was wonderful to see the old classic boats roaring down the course six abreast, though it was clear that the restored versions (hats off to the volunteers at the Hydroplane and Race Boat Museum) were being nursed through the scenes at reduced speed. But where was the sound? Much of the thrill of the old hydros was the mind-numbing roar of six Allison or Rolls-Merlin aircraft engines, wound up to RPM's never imagined by their designers, hitting the starting line right in front of you. You didn't hear it, you FELT it. Real hydro buffs know exactly what I'm talking about. There's none of that in Madison. Instead, every racing scene is buried under what is supposed to be a "heroic" musical score.
And then there are the close-up shots of the drivers, riding smoothly and comfortably in the cockpits as if they were relaxing in the latest luxury limousines, in some cases taking time to smile evilly as they contemplate how best to thwart the poor home-town hero. Or, in one particularly ridiculous shot, taking time to spot Jake Lloyd giving a "Rocky" salute from a bridge pier. In reality, some unlimited drivers wore flak vests to minimize the beating they took as the boats slammed across the rock-hard water at speeds above 150 mph.
As one reviewer so aptly put it, "The sport deserves better than this."
Finally, since another user brought up anachronisms, I'll add one: the establishing shot of Seattle shows the Kingdome and Safeco Field. Neither existed in 1971
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