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SAINT RALPH

98 MINUTES

Teenagers get some loopy notions, but only a screenwriter could dream up the one behind this dramedy set in Ontario in the 1950s. Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a good kid in need of direction. His war-hero father is dead, and only a miracle can revive his comatose mother. After Ralph accidentally splooges in a local swimming pool, his controlling Catholic-school principal (Gordon Pinsent) compels him to join the schoolís running team, and when the coach, Nietzsche-quoting Father Hibbert (an unglib Campbell Scott), says it would be a miracle if he won the Boston Marathon, Ralph decides thatís what will restore his mother. No Jamie Bell, Butcher does convey confusion and confidence, but heís held back by an implausible script from writer/director Michael McGowan, whose flair for slapstick is offset by overcoming-adversity clichés. As our hero stretches for the finish line, yet another soundtrack rendition of Leonard Cohenís " Hallelujah " trails behind.

BY CHRIS WANGLER

Issue Date: August 5 - 12, 2005
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