Well-Balanced Film Reviews:
SportsHollywood asked Olympic medalist and actress Betty Okino to review sports films. Like a gymnastics routine, each film begins with a score of 9.50. Betty then makes deductions for flaws in execution and for any missing requirements in the composition of the film (acting, direction, etc.). She then can award bonus points. Thus, the perfect gymnastics movie, with a full bonus, would be awarded a score of 10.00. Here are the results:
Gymnastic Films Under Review
American Anthem (1986) - A romantic sports drama about a love affair between a rebellious jock from the sticks named Steve Tevere (Olympic gymnast Mitch Gaylord) who quit his gymnastics team, and a girl from the big city, named Julie Lloyd (Janet Jones). She is a newcomer to the team, and is feuding with evil Coach Soranhoff (Michael Pataki) over which prerecorded tape she'll use for her routine when she tries out for the Olympics.
Will Julie perform her floor routine with the controversial music? Will Steve dismount from the high bar with a triple swing that once sent him to the hospital? Who knows, but their outfits are pretty skimpy, so who cares?
Michelle Phillips and John Aprea play Gaylord's parents. Directed by Albert Magnoli, who also directed Prince in Purple Rain. Music provided by Giorgio Moroder, Stevie Nicks and Mr. Mister.
BETTY'S SCORECARD: Half an hour into this movie, I could no longer be bothered by the dialogue or the bogus training and competitive situations. (Really, I can't remember the last time I competed at Nationals with a SPOTLIGHT blazing in my eyes.) On the upside, Mitch Gaylord prancing around without his shirt on for 90% of the movie was enough to award American Anthem a one-tenth bonus. If you had a crush on Mitch back in 1984, then this is your movie. Grab some popcorn, put your television on mute, and enjoy.
Start Value: 9.50
Bonus Points: 1/10th bonus
Final Score: 8.20
Olympic Films Under Review
The Cutting Edge (1992) - At the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Doug Dorsey (D.B. Sweeney) is battered and partially blinded in a hockey game against West Germany. Two years later, figure skater Kate (Moira Kelly) recruits him to be her partner in the next Olympics. He hates her, she hates him, but they don't realize they're really in love. Can a romance blossom before Doug goes "McSorley" on her?
BETTY'S SCORECARD: Two thumbs up for The Cutting Edge. The movie stayed true to the sport of figure skating without overdoing it.The focus of the movie remained on the relationship between our two main characters, whose onscreen chemistry was strong enough to carry the whole movie. Cutting Edge did have the luck of the draw being second up after American Anthem's flawed performance. Like gymnastics, the further back in the line up, the higher the score. All things considered this is a great movie to rent on a cold rainy afternoon.
Start Value: 9.50
Bonus Points: 3/10th bonus
Final Score: 9.80
||The Cutting Edge
Gymkata (1985) - Olympic gold medal gymnast Kurt Thomas stars in this martial arts potboiler, shot in Yugoslavia by Robert Clouse, the director of Enter the Dragon.
American Tiger (1989) - American Anthem star Mitch Gaylord returns as Scott Edwards, a rickshaw driver framed for murder.
Nadia (1984) - The story of gymnast Nadia Comaneci, from her childhood (when she was discovered in Romania by coach Belya Karolyi), to earning the first perfect 10.0 in Olympic gymnastics competition at the 1972 Games in Montreal, Canada.
Spitfire (1994) - James Bond-style spy film with 1988 Olympic Gymastics Team member and former U.S. National Champion Kristie Phillips.
Perfect Body (1997) - Andie Burton (Amy Jo Johnson) is a gymnast who dreams of competing in the Olympics, but develops an eating disorder.
Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (1997) - Another gymnast (Courtney Peldon) with an eating disorder.
Goofy Gymnastics (1949) - Inspired by a magazine ad ("Don't be a spineless, weak-kneed, no-good nincompoop!"), Goofy tries gymnastics and displays a variety of amazing spins, flips, kicks and jumps... but the landings aren't so good. He probably also develops an eating disorder.
Cool Runnings (1993) - Based on the real life story of the Jamaican bobsled team that competed in the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, Canada. The late John Candy plays an ex-Olympian.
Running Brave (1983) - The story of Billy Mills (Robby Benson), the Native American distance runner who rose from obscurity to win the 10,000 meter long distance race in the Tokyo Olympics.
Personal Best (1982) - As she strives to make the U.S. Olympic Team, Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) bounces between the beds of male coach Terry Tingloff (Scott Glenn) and her female friend, competitor, and role model, Tory Skinner (Patrice Donnelly).
Prefontaine (1997) - The life of famous 1970s distance runner Steve Prefontaine (Jared Leto) from his early days at Oregon University, where he worked with the legendary coach Bill Bowerman (R. Lee Ermey), through the tragic 1972 Olympics in Munich, to his death at age 24 in a car crash.
Without Limits (1998) - The life of famous 1970s distance runner Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) from his early days at Oregon University, where he worked with the legendary coach Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland), through the tragic 1972 Olympics in Munich, to his death at age 24 in a car crash.
1990 U.S. National Championships: Silver Medalist (AA), Gold Medalist (Beam) and Event Finalist (5th Bars, 4th Floor)
1991 World Championships: Silver Medalist (Team), Bronze Medalist (Beam) and 4th AA
1991 American Cup: Champion and Gold Medalist (AA, Vault, Bars)
1992 World Championships: Silver Medalist (Bars) and Event Finalist (8th Beam)
1992 Olympics: Bronze Medalist (Team) and Event Finalist (6th Beam)
(Photo © Matthew Barber)