Parents' Guide to

Prefontaine

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Legendary runner's story is compelling, tragic.

Movie PG-13 1997 107 minutes
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It's refreshing to see Pre portrayed as a flawed, overly competitive athlete who can be a huge jerk, when most sports movies glorify and idealize athletes and coaches. Pre is played by Jared Leto, who at the time seemed destined to be one Hollywood's A-list leading men. He's almost too pretty an actor to play the masculine, cocky runner, but he obviously relished the role. Pre isn't always the most likable character; he's so competitive he won't even allow children running with him to pass him, and he egotistically steals the glory from his fellow University of Oregon track athletes.

Although the primary on-screen sources are Pre's final girlfriend Nancy Alleman (Amy Locane) and his assistant coach Bill Dellinger (Ed O'Neill), the best scenes are between Pre and head Oregon coach Bill Bowerman (R. Lee Ermey), a man deserving of his own biopic. Ermey, best known as the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, is expert at playing coaches and officers, and his Bowerman is exactly the kind of no-nonsense, supportive man you'd expect to lead athletes to glory. Pre's personal quest for Olympic victory remained his one unrealized dream. According to the film, the horror of the Munich Games took its toll on Pre, who finished fourth in the 5K and never got another chance for the gold. James' film doesn't linger on what could've been, however. Instead, it rightfully focuses on Pre's unquenchable thirst for crossing the finish line first, which seems exactly what Pre would've wanted.

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