- Movie Rating -

Running (1979)

| November 2, 1979

Oh, Rocky!  What have you done to us?  The inevitable fallout to a successful movie – particularly one that walks away with an Oscar for Best Picture – is that it is bound to have cheap imitators.  Within the span of 1978 and 1979, there were a glut of inspiration sports movies covering the entire spectrum: ice skating, basketball, boxing, tennis, cycling, sprinting, football, wrestling, equestrian, bowling, baseball and even bare-knuckle pit-fighting*.

But festering at the bottom of the barrel is Steven Hilliard Stern’s Running, a half-assed character drama starring Michael Douglas a self-involved, self-pitying narcissist whose life is a mess until he gets the itch to compete in the Olympic Marathon.  Douglas plays Michael Andropolis, a loser at the game of life who is impossibly good-looking and financially well-off, which means he self-destructive and we’re suppose to like him (fat chance).  He has every opportunity to make himself a success but thus far he has dropped out of both medical school and law school, destroyed his marriage to his wife Janet (Susan Anspach), and is so anti-authority that he tries to start a revolution when the line at the unemployment slows to a crawl.  That scene is embarrassing. 

Michael’s problems are supposed to get us on his side in the same way that Rocky was written off as a loser in his Philadelphia neighborhood.  But Rocky wasn’t a self-pitying whiner, whose complaints about life feel less like a breakthrough than a childish tantrum.

When the movie finally gets to the Olympic training, it’s not much.  Yeah, it looks pretty but it’s routine stuff.  He jogs and jogs while music plays behind him and we see some pretty sunsets.  The eventual moments at the end of the movie as to whether or not he will actually make it are patterned, inevitable and whole uninteresting.  This is one of the worst movies of any kind, as a character piece, as a sports movie, as a drama.  It stumbles on all levels.

* – Ice Castles, Fast Break, The Champ, Players, Breaking Away, Goldengirl, North Dallas Forty, Paradise Alley, International Velvet, Dreamer, The Bad News Bears Go to Japan and Every Which Way But Loose. 

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized