OSM_0483.NEF4 Minute Mile is a professional and perfunctory sports movie, devoid of passion or purpose. It’s as if director Charles-Olivier Michaud and screenwriters Josh Campbell and Jeff Van Wie received a homework assignment to deliver a Disneyesque movie along the lines of The Rookie or Invincible, but with enough of an Indy feel and gritty storyline to merit a PG-13 rating and banishment from the Magic Kingdom. We’re left with a Disney After Dark production, if a such a film company existed, and a Debbie Downer experience. Michaud and his writers merit no more than a C on this assignment.

Interestingly, 4 Minute Mile does not have the tag line, “Inspired By True Events.” One would think that the immersion into complete fiction would be liberating, but the narrative too often reverts back to cliche. A high school senior is kicked off the track team and seems to be in danger of falling into the cracks of the society or rather being pulled down there by an older brother involved in the drug trade. He’s an outsider, our hero, with only a cute female classmate who believes in him. A one-time track coach, reduced to watching from the stands and smoking cigarettes, lives on the same block and might just be able to help him get that college scholarship if they can both defeat their personal demons.

Kelly Blatz as Drew Jacobs, the kid, is both a strength and a weakness. He looks like a runner, and he has an effective, laconic interpretation of the role that works well. He is also 27 years old, and he looks like someone in his mid-to-late 20’s. He does not look like a 17-year old which is what he is asked to play. His would-be girlfriend in the film is played by a 25-year old actress, Analeigh Tipton, who also looks her age. Neither is credible as a high school student in a film that needs for the leads to be believeable.

Richard Jenkins is the track coach, Coleman. We never find out his whole back story, just that his son, who he once coached, is dead, and Coleman now walks with a limp.  We also never learn what happened to Drew’s father, although we see the police at the house at the beginning of the movie. That scenario gives us Kim Basinger as an implausible single mom with a face so full of Botox that you could bounce a quarter off her forehead.

The fill-in-the-blank with your own imagination approach to personal tragedy does not work here, particularly since the tragedies are tied to the mystical mumbo-jumbo about running into the pain and confronting the fear and breaking through, because it’s not about times or winning or any of the things that sports in America is really all about. Just once, one of our young film athletes needs to headbutt his Mr. Miyagi, and scream in steroid rage, “I’m only in it to win it, Bitch!” Now that would carry the tag line, “Inspired By True Events.”

Jenkins and Blatz have some nice moments together, and Tipton brings a sweet likeability to her scenes. Cam Gigandet as older brother Wes and Rhys Coiro as the drug-dealing, fish-gutting Eli do what they can, but the limitations of the script keep them from flourishing. Seattle serves nicely as the location here, and there’s some good film work by cinematographer Jean-François Lord. The music by Stephen Barton is also a plus.

Overall, however, we’re left with the impression that the filmmakers did not have the courage of their own convictions.  A jailhouse conversion and a tacked-on epilogue are sloppy sentimentality. At its best, 4 Minute Mile is reminiscent of the outstanding TV movie The Jericho Mile, but that film was unflinching right up to its last defiant moment, whereas 4 Minute Mile flinches at the end.

Two stars.

 

 

 

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Comments
  1. tracytastic says:

    When is the last time you were on a highschool campus? Take a trip to one, there are always teenagers that can pass for many years older than themselves. I know, I raised 3 of them. This is especially true of girls, my house has been full of them for years. The first circumstance virtually ensures the second.

    It would be one thing if that were the limit of your views on age and someone’s appearance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Kim Bassinger is in her 50’s and her looks are appropriate for her age. If anything, having her appear with limited make up, no filter and with minmal hair styling works. She looks as tired as someone in her circumstance would. Regardless, she is and has always been an extremely beautiful woman. Whether she uses botox isn’t my business. Or yours. As her looks have absolutely nothing to do with her part (any talented actress of similar skill could have been cast, attractive or unattractive) then your pointing it out is unnecessary. In fact it is ugly, disrespectful and sexist. You insult her looks. You declare her to be implausible, one suspects because of her beauty. Yet, you say absolutely nothing about her acting. You reduced her down to nothing but a place filler. A place filler YOU think uses too much Botox. You made a joke of her.

    Badly done. Very badly done.

    I’m sorry you weren’t able to acknowledge or recognize the fact that this was a wonderfully understated movie. It wasn’t nauseatingly sweet, as one expects from a Disney star and movie. The movie was true to life…it was dirty, gritty and unrelenting. The characters interacted with each other with realism. Life for a single mother is hard enough, throw in a father dead from an overdose and it’s hardly surprising to find one child who is sullen and introverted. Even less surprising to find that the older child, is dealing drugs in spite of parole.

    There were no parades, no over the top, mawkish displays of sentimentality. Thank God. There is nothing more off putting than a big neon sign pointing to the moment and telling us how to feel.

    Is it the best movie ever? No. It has it’s issues, but not one of them has anything to do with whether Kim Bassinger looks the way YOU think she should. And it certainly deserves more than a lackluster 2 stars.

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