You know that scene in the Shawshank Redemption where Andy has to crawl through a 500 yards of shit to get to freedom?
This movie isn't quite that bad, but there is a lot of crap to deal with before arriving at one of the best (EVER) final races in any inspirational sports movie. Trust.
How nice is it to see Robby Benson again? Heeeey Robby.
Running Brave is about Billy Mills, a young man who is half Sioux and lives on a reservation in South Dakota. His high school track coach gets a college coach to see him run. He's real good, so the coach offers him a scholarship to college.
His family is really supportive (at first) and they believe that he will be The One to leave the reservation and succeed. You see, young men have left the reservation before, but many have returned within months because the outside world is just too much.
Billy's uncle gives him a drawing as a going away present. Billy loves his uncle and his uncle is really kind to Billy.
But, his uncle has troubles. This here is his return from prison. It turns out his uncle is an alcoholic and is pretty depressed. Life is tough for him. He doesn't really fit in anywhere and, even though he's a really talented artist, he doesn't know how to make anything happen with his art.
So, Billy goes to college and, holy shit, the campus is HUGE.
But, there's a silver lining. He's there to run and he LOVES to run!
This guy thinks it would be HI-LARIOUS to make fun of the fact that Billy is Sioux. Ha ha, Joe McDouche.
Billy walks to his dorm room.
Well, lookee who his roommate is. It's Joe McDouche!
Joe quickly has a change of heart and tells Billy that they should put their shit behind them since they're going to be roommates.
There's a wild scene/flashback where we see Billy's dad box a giant in a fur onesie. Billy's dad wins and you can tell he's Billy's hero and then Billy's dad has a heart attack and he dies.
And it's super super sad.
Back to present-day where, at a fancy party, Billy meets Pat.
Pat is awesome! We love Pat!
Ha. Joe is such a tool/hilarious guy.
One day, the coach puts this news clipping on the wall. It's an article about Ron Clarke, probably the best long distance runner of the 20th century. The coach says, "This is what happens with a little talent and a lot of hard work." That's really inspiring. Write it in your journal.
Billy tries to join a frat where all the track guys go/join, but they kick him out because he's not white. Assholes.
Then Billy and his roommate (who I think also left the frat party because they wouldn't let Billy join) bond over their shared loss of their parents at a young age. It turns out Joe McDouche isn't such a jerk after all!
So, skip forward and Billy has done what he came to do, he made his crew a championship team.
But, he's starting to have doubts....
The school won the championship, but Billy is feeling like he's just a running machine. He's just there to give the school what they want and no one cares what HE wants. He used to love to run, but now, there's no joy in running. So he drops out of school. Maybe? Or he just quits the team. It's not really clear.
He returns to the reservation. And, seriously, your heart breaks.
This scene is MAD COOL.
One day, Billy comes home (he's living with his kind uncle) to find a telegram from Pat, who is now his girlfriend (sort of, because he dropped out, maybe). She tells him that she loves him and misses him and she wants him to come back.
Billy goes inside to tell his uncle the good news and---
GOD DAMMIT! Billy discovers his uncle has killed himself.
So, Billy joins the army or the marines. Whatever. Uniforms.
And with the help of Pat the Awesome, who is now his wife...
He independently trains for the Olympics.
And, being a guy who trains alone on his spare time from being in the army, he makes it to the Olympics.
And he makes it to the final for the 10000 meters. In the locker room, he makes eye contact with Ron Clarke. Yes, that Ron Clarke. Of the newspaper clipping his coach posted in the locker room in college. That Ron Clarke of the world records and best runner in the world status. Also, Ron Clarke is super cute.
Plus, here's the thing, I Googled the actor who plays Ron Clarke and couldn't find any other credits so I have a theory. I think RON CLARKE plays Ron Clarke in the movie. Check it out:
I KNOW, RIGHT!?
Here begins the most awesome 17 minutes in the movie. Seriously, this race makes the whole movie worth it. The so-so acting. The kinda weird plot development. The emotion fuckery. It's all worth it for these racing minutes.
His college coach flew all the way to Japan to watch the race! It's really cute. He's so nervous, he can't watch the race! He's pacing in and out of the stadium, it's pretty great. Take my word for it. It's nifty.
Pretty much one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history. A guy out of almost nowhere wins the gold. And, keep in mind, he wasn't running against a weak crowd. He was running against world record holder, RON CLARKE.
He returns to Kansas and they're having a big party for him!
And Joe is there with a copy of LIFE magazine and Billy is on the cover!
This movie. It almost makes you forget the first 90 minutes kind of sucked.
I fondly recall this movie as being the birth of my love for the inspirational sports movie and, let me tell you, that last race. Well, it didn't disappoint. Running Brave. It's no Mighty Ducks and that's a good thing.
PS: To get a little more inspirational on your ass, shortly after making this movie (less than a year, I think) Robbie Benson had heart surgery because he's had a heart condition his whole life. Yeah, a heart condition and he played a long distance runner in the movie and you can tell he's doing a lot of the running. What did you do today?
Finally, check it out, Billy and Pat are still hitched and they're still awesome.
PPS: Become his fan on facebook!