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Powerboat film races into theaters

“Madison” tells the story of the 1971 legendary American Power Boat Racing Gold Cup

For a movie about racing powerboats that top 100 miles per hour, the film “Madison” traveled at a snail’s pace to reach movie screens.

Filmed in 1999, the underdog family film about Unlimited hydroplane racing debuted April 22 on a relatively few 93 screens. By midsummer the $14 million movie may already be well on its way to video stores as it earned just $466,285 in its first two weeks.

“Madison” is based on the true story of Miss Madison, which defied all expectations and won the 1971 American Power Boat Racing Gold Cup. The film’s premier showing was at the Ohio Theater in Madison, Ind., the site of the victory.

“The vehicle is the hydroplane and the story is about family,” actor Jim Caviezel said at the premiere. Caviezel played Jesus Christ in last year’s “The Passion of the Christ.”

In “Madison,” Caviezel plays Jim McCormick, who stepped in at the last moment to drive Miss Madison to victory. Other stars include Bruce Dern and Jake Lloyd, who played the young Darth Vader in “Star Wars: Episode I.”

The movie is told through the perspective of McCormick’s son, Mike, looking back over the course of a summer that has become legendary in the Ohio riverfront town. The once prosperous and busy port was a dying town in the 1970s and the community-owned Miss Madison was a point of pride.

The climax of the movie is the big Gold Cup race in which the boat and its all-volunteer crew upsets better- funded boats with sponsors such as Budweiser.

Reviews of the movie were mixed, at best, with some critics noting a script full of sports clichés while others praised the sincere, old-fashioned storytelling. Hydroplane racing fans contributing to online Web logs overwhelmingly like the movie.