Race – It Gets The Bronze, Not The Gold – Review

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Courtesy Focus

Based on the true story, Stephan James stars as Jesse Owens – a young, talented track and field athlete who dreams of heading to the 1936 Olympics.  Facing the challenges of racism, poverty and raising a young child, the odds seem stacked against Owens, but he has a talent that cannot be denied, and coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis) knows it.

Yet, even if Owens can make the Olympic team, the United States is considering a boycott to show the host country, Germany, that its Nazi policies are unacceptable.

Meanwhile, Jesse also hears from those in the African-American community who feel he should make an even greater statement by choosing not to go to Germany.

Hopefully, those of you reading this review know the history of how Owens went to Germany, became the first man to win 4 gold medals and goes down in history as a great American hero (umm, spoiler alert?).

However, Race is not a gold medal winning movie.  It’s more of a bronze medal winner.

Director Stephan Hopkins makes Race into a traditional, but slow moving film.  All of the requisite moments are here with big speeches set to grand inspirational music, a buddy story between coach and student, a love story about the lady Owens yearns for as she raises his child back home in Cleveland, and frightening scenes exemplifying the racism poisoning America and Germany.

Hopkins and the writing team try very hard to get every little piece of the story into the film, rather than going into a deeper focus on an episode or a moment.  In that sense, Race is a wonderful history lesson for teens and tweens by exposing them to such a broad spectrum of themes, stories and subplots.  Plus, it’s an opportunity for the film’s young star to show what he can do.

James is wonderfully understated as a man who has a burning desire to succeed where no one seems to believe he can, or people openly oppose him out of fear that he will.  Yet, he also brings an easygoing charm to humanize a figure many of us only know from newsreel footage or history books.

Race never overcomes the obvious challenge.  Most of us in the crowd know how the story ends, so what are you going to show me to shock, surprise of educate me.

In the end, this is why Race is just OK.

2_5waffles_sml2 ½ Waffles (Out of 4)

Race is rated PG-13 for thematic elements and language.

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