Done (way) before (it was done in 2001 and sat on the shelf for four years) Jim Caviezel's famed "Passion of the Christ" performance and released after, "Madison" is a true story drama that has good intentions, but its small town uplift feels rather familiar. The film takes place in the tiny town of Madison, IN in the early 70's, and the town faces difficult times as the local economy seems to be headed off on the first highway out of town.
The town's main claim-to-fame is hydroplane racing on the river. Jim McCormick (Caviezel), used to be one of the town's famed racers, but after an accident, he now spends his free time working on a boat with his son (Jake Lloyd, from "Star Wars: Episode I"). The father and son duo push to get the Gold Cup Regatta moved to Madison that year, and surprise the association meeting by coming up with a check for the $50,000 that they need to get the race moved.
The city, suffering from job losses and other economic issues, debates the idea of spending the money on such a thing, but with some convincing, they get behind the idea. After all, the national press that the city would get would potentially bring some revitalization and, also important, some much-needed tourist revenue and town pride.
Things aren't that easy, though: the team has to compete against corporate-sponsored racers with more money and better equipment, and when the boat that they thought they'd enter into the race is badly damaged, it looks like the town may not have a spot in the famed race when it arrives.
It's probably not giving anything away that the end results of the film are pretty obvious, but it's one of those uplifting, inspirational flicks that give you the warm cuddlies. If not the warm cuddlies, maybe at least the gee whizes. At any rate, the picture is pretty sentimental and pretty cliched in parts, but somehow, I got into the flick enough to at least basically root for the "heroes".
As for the performances, I still think Jim Caviezel's about one of the blandest actors working today, but it works here. Lloyd isn't too bad as his son, either, but the supporting cast (Mary McCormack, Bruce Dern and Brent Briscoe) add a lot to the picture. Despite being a fairly low-budget production, "Madison" looks rather good technically. Overall, the film isn't going to win any awards for originality, but it's a mostly winning feature, despite its faults.
VIDEO: Sony Pictures Home Video presents Madison in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although it's not flawless, this is quite a lovely transfer. Sharpness and detail are mostly excellent, with only a few minor instances of softness. The picture shows some slight edge enhancement at times, but it's not enough to cause distraction. Aside from that, no other issues were spotted - no pixelation, print flaws or other concerns were seen. Colors looked bright and well-saturated, with no concerns.
SOUND: The Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation was fine for the material, with the surrounds kicking in during some of the race sequences, as well as to support the score and deliver some ambience. The remainder of the audio is nicely spread across the front speakers. Quality is quite nice, as dialogue (as well as the narration by John Mellencamp) sounds crisp and clear.
EXTRAS: A short "making of" featurette and trailers for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: As cliched as aspects of "Madison" are, I still got caught up in the story and enjoyed the film. The DVD offers fine audio/video quality, and a minor supplement. A recommended rental.