Monday, November 16, 2009

Movies: Saint Ralph

My Mom is an inveterate movie sleeper. She works so hard at her day job that she understandably has difficulty staying awake through an entire feature film. The movies that can overcome her weariness are special indeed, like "Saint Ralph":

It's a dramedy about the rigors of Canadian Catholic school and marathoning. Director Michael McGowan won't win any awards for originality here - the plot is identical to about a dozen sports movies (including several whose plots directly involve running, like "Chariots of Fire"). In "Saint Ralph," plucky underdog Ralph Walker enters the Boston Marathon looking for a miracle to save his mother. Along the way, of course, he faces opposition from a stodgy school headmaster and the rest of the incredulous student body.

The movie is stuffed to the gills with treacle. Most of the characters are paper-thin cutouts just there to lend Ralph a helping hand; Jennifer Tilly, for instance, doesn't do anything with her performance aside from looking good in her nurse costume. Still, there's an understated period charm in "Saint Ralph," a faithful optimism that's almost critic-proof. You have to give the film credit where it's due, too - the climactic marathon scenes are about as well-executed as any sports movie could hope for. Plus, if Mom didn't fall asleep, the movie must be doing something right.

Rating: 7/10


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