50to1coverGrade: B
Entire family: No, but ….
2014, 111 min., Color
Rated PG-13 for some suggestive material and a bar brawl
Sony Pictures
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen
Featured audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
Bonus features: C
Trailer/Amazon link

50 to 1 just about describes the odds of a low-budget, small-studio movie with mostly B-list talent and a writer-director of former box-office disappointments being able to compete with slicker big-studio horse racing titles.

But I’ll tell you right now, like Mine That Bird, the subject of this 2014 sport drama with comedic moments, 50 to 1 beats the odds. I liked it as much as Seabiscuit (2003) and Secretariat (2010).

Notice I said “liked it as much” rather than “as good as.” The budgets for Seabiscuit and Secretariat were respectively 8.7 and 3.5 times larger and the production values sometimes show it. The script for 50 to 1 also is more uneven, with character development that falls a little short. William Devane is the most recognizable name actor onboard, and while the acting won’t win any awards, the cast does a good job of making you believe their characters.

50to1screen1Everybody loves an underdog story, and 50 to 1 is a doozy. The horse, a smaller-than-usual gelding with a strange walk, has been running as slow as can be and gets no respect. Neither does the rag-tag group of New Mexico cowboys and their families who own him, train him, ride him, invest in him, and, most importantly, believe in him. They’re not wealthy dabblers who race horses as a hobby. They need one good horse to help them keep their stables in business, and with creditors knocking at the door they’re as much of an underdog as Mine That Bird. Even if you’re an urbanite, it’s tough not to appreciate this rough-around-the-edges group and the joy they take in the small things in life. They’re not phony posers, they’re real people, so when the snobs in racing circles treat them as if they were the Clampetts from The Beverly Hillbillies, it’s hard not to secretly (or not so secretly) pull for them to show those bluebloods a thing or two.   More