Image

Agony. Ecstasy. Popcorn

It's Games time. Hit the couch—or don't—for some Olympian flicks.

Image

Off Road to Athens

(2005 DOCUMENTARY)

THE HEROES:
Eight U.S. mountain bikers who pedal passionately without whining about money or celebrity.
THE HURDLE:
Riders compete at venues around the world for a berth at the ’04 Games, in Greece.
THE TRAGEDY:
Only three of the eight riders can make the cut. When USA Cycling mangles their scores, two female riders take the issue to court.
WE GIVE IT:
Bronze. Not terribly inspiring, but shines a useful light on USA Cycling’s poor planning.

One Day in September

(1999 DOCUMENTARY)

THE HEROES:
11 Israeli athletes and coaches who die at the 1972 Games, in Munich.
THE HURDLE:
A lax approach to security leaves authorities unprepared for an Olympic Village attack by Palestinian terrorists.
THE TRAGEDY:
Officials squander numerous opportunities to intervene.
WE GIVE IT:
Gold. The first-ever interview with the only surviving terrorist is especially chilling.

Without Limits

(1998 DRAMA)

THE HERO:
Runner Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup).
THE HURDLE:
He’s an amateur with uneven legs and a wind-resistant mustache who ignores his legendary coach, sprints ahead of the pack, and still believes he can win the 5,000 meters in 1972.
THE TRAGEDY:
Pre takes fourth at Munich, then dies in a car accident three years later, at 24.
WE GIVE IT:
Silver. Crudup’s a more convincing Pre than Jared Leto is in ’97’s Prefontaine.

American Anthem

(1986 DRAMA)

THE HERO:
Fictional gymnast Steve Tevere (played by 1984 gold medalist Mitch Gaylord).
THE HURDLE:
Troubled, chiseled Steve has an abusive father who wants his son to tinker with motorcycles, not tights.
THE TRIUMPH:
Steve makes it to the Olympics, with help from hot training partner Julie (Janet Jones). And—sniff, sniff—Dad ultimately accepts him.
WE GIVE IT:
Tin. It’s Flashdance on the uneven bars.

Chariots of Fire

(1981 DRAMA)

THE HEROES:
British sprinters Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson) and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross).
THE HURDLE:
Liddell, a Scottish missionary, won’t run on Sundays; Abrahams, a Jew, runs, in part, to deflect prejudice.
THE TRIUMPH:
At the 1924 Paris Games, Abrahams wins gold in the 100 meters, and Liddell takes the 400.
WE GIVE IT:
Gold. You can mock the all-male slow-motion beach-training runs, but this one deserved its four Oscars.

sms