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Originally published Thursday, July 31, 2014 at 3:02 PM

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‘4 Minute Mile’ runs on a tired, cliché-ridden track

A review of the Seattle-set “4 Minute Mile,” about a teen who runs to escape his bleak home life. 2 out of 4 stars.


Seattle Times movie critic

Movie Review ★★  

“4 Minute Mile,” with Kelly Blatz, Richard Jenkins, Cam Gigandet, Kim Basinger, Analeigh Tipton, Rhys Coiro. Directed by Charles-Olivier Michaud, from a screenplay by Josh Campbell and Jeff Van Wie. 95 minutes. Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material involving violence, drinking and drugs, and for smoking and some language. Sundance Cinemas (21+). Producer Mark DiSalle will introduce the 9:40 screening Aug. 2.

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The unremarkable coming-of-age tale “4 Minute Mile” (formerly called “One Square Mile”) was shot in and around Seattle two years ago, so local audiences will at least get the pleasure of seeing our city looking pretty on the big screen — and of hearing a character instruct another to meet him at “Ballard Locks, 5 p.m., Magnolia side.” Its main character, a teenage runner named Drew (Kelly Blatz), lopes gracefully through a number of Seattle neighborhoods, and playing spot-the-location is, alas, rather more fun than following the movie.

Drew’s life is unrelentingly grim: His father OD’d when he was a child, his mother (a jittery Kim Basinger) seems fragile and lost, his brother (Cam Gigandet) is caught in a web of drugs and crime, his home is grubby and dark. His only joy comes from running, and soon a veteran coach, Coleman (Richard Jenkins), spots the kid’s breezy, natural gait and takes him on as a protégé. Coleman, reclusive and angry at the world, has his own issues, but he won’t talk about them; rather, he endlessly spouts generic sports wisdom: “You can’t run with a temper. You gotta be in control.” “Running’s not just physical. It’s in your head.” “Patience. It takes a lot of it to be a runner.” “The pain. You gotta learn to overcome it.”

Jenkins, one of those actors who effortlessly raises every movie he’s in, finds some poignancy in his underwritten character, and Blatz has a cool, quiet presence that’s appealing. But director Charles-Olivier Michaud doesn’t know what to do with the supporting characters; we never quite understand Drew’s family dynamic, particularly his brother’s behavior. “4 Minute Mile” coasts along on its all-too-familiar track, toward the Big Race and Drew’s inevitable newfound maturity, never quite hitting its stride.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com



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