What You Need To Know:
MADISON has a big heart, but media wisdom is definitely required. For example, Jim and the mayor get away with lying and embezzling. Without media-wise guidance, children will come away with the opinion that lying, cheating and stealing lead to success. On the other hand, MADISON emphasizes loyalty and dedication, upholds marriage, and has a positive church scene. And, the underdog’s triumph at the end will pull at the heart strings.
(Ro, B, C, RH, LL, V, A, D, MM) Light Romantic worldview with some lying and cheating integral to the plot development, as well as some positive moral content such as loyalty, upholding marriage and very, very brief Christian content, and reportedly, there is some historical revisionism, according to one official website for the racing boat featured in the story; 15 obscenities and four profanities; action violence, nothing bloody, including boats explode, people die from explosions, discussions of injuries, and flashbacks of boat explosions; no sexual immorality but husband and wife kiss; no nudity; drinking and smoking; and, lying, stealing, cheating, and embezzling.
MADISON is a very nostalgic movie. Through the eyes of young Mike McCormick, it tells the story of his father, Jim McCormick, who keeps alive the dying town of Madison, Indiana, especially Madison’s dreams of winning the grand championship in hydroplane boat racing.
Set in 1971, in the beautiful Ohio River valley, it features a town that practically gave birth to hydroplane boat racing. There’s even a museum about the racing in the town. Jim used to race the community-owned Madison boat, the “Miss Madison,” until his best friend, many years ago, was killed in an accident on the river. Going bankrupt, Madison can hardly sustain the cost of the race. At one time, the town was the leading port for barge traffic up the Ohio, second in the nation only to New Orleans. Now, with trucks and super highways, the last barge company has shut down. Those people who didn’t leave town when they could are out of work.
The boat racing association wants to take Madison off the circuit so they can be on ABC’s WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS. The nice, good old boy mayor gives Jim a check embezzled from the ladies’ cookoff to pay for parts so that he can race the boat in Miami. By a quirk of fate, Madison’s name is chosen as the site of the Gold Cup Race, but they must put up $50,000 to host the event.
Jim fills in $50,000 on the check to secure the Gold Cup Race, even though the mayor told him they only had $500. When Jim comes back to Madison, he reads a bogus letter ridiculing Madison. Angered, the town votes to raise the money, and the bank manager agrees not to process the check for two weeks. When they can’t raise the $50,000, the mayor again takes money from another cookie jar.
Fed up with her husband’s addiction to boat racing, Jim’s wife, Bonnie, leaves with their two children, but the wise words and sensibility of her mother brings her back. A friend who had been a great mechanic comes back to help the race, and the movie ends the way that all sports movies are supposed to end – with tears of joy and thanksgiving.
MADISON has a big heart, but media wisdom is definitely required. Not only do Jim and the mayor get away with lying and embezzling, but the final credits say the race brought fame and fortune to Madison, which continues to this day. Without media-wise guidance, children will come away with the opinion that lying, cheating and stealing lead to success. In that regard, it should be noted that the heroes stole an engine from a fighter plane for the final race.
On the other hand, MADISON emphasizes loyalty and dedication, upholds marriage, and has a positive church scene. And, the underdog’s triumph at the end will pull at the heart strings.
The director, who also co-wrote the script, clearly wanted to do good and is marketing this to the church. Regrettably, the editing is weak at the beginning, the characters rely more on stereotypes than acting, with the only good acting coming from Mary McCormack who plays Jim’s wife Bonnie. And the music is derivative and often shrill. Some scenes are completely irrelevant. This sounds much worse than it is, however.
On the positive side, the story builds strongly, it holds your attention and it ends well. MOVIEGUIDE® would like to be more positive about the movie, but suggests media wisdom and caution for older children.