“Keep up the pace and maybe
I’ll put in a good word with the Lord.”

Walker the Runner

I went to Catholic grade school and I didn’t think it can be an intriguing setting until now. Where else would you find young minds grappling with the mystery of God and life? Remember when you were a kid? To wonder is such a powerful thing. The sky was so much farther then. Death was so much farther then. Everything was huge and formidable. Greatness, what did we know of greatness then? To touch it, to get a glimpse of it seems reasonably forbidden. Then we grow up and realize we have to move towards that direction if we want a life worth living.

Fourteen year-old Ralph Walker (Adam Butcher) is a Catholic student who’s at the ripe age of awakenings. Like normal teens, he has realized his pubescent senses and has discovered “venial sins” that might hinder his entry to heaven. Unlike other teens however, he must wake up to a lonely world where his dad is a dead war-hero and his mother in a coma. When the nice nurse (Jennifer Tilly) informs him that it would “take a miracle to wake her up,” Ralph boy decides to strive towards sainthood, since saints can perform miracles. And the attentive boy finds his miracle-to-be in an offhand comment by his cross-country coach Father Hibbert (Campbell Scott): “Anyone on this team winning the Boston Marathon would be a miracle to rival the loaves and fishes.” (The allusion to “loaves and fishes” refers to one of Jesus’ miracles).

Surely, there are many dubious things to nitpick at the movie’s plot. For example, the fatherless Ralph feigns to be living with his grandma, when in reality, he’s all by himself and fears of being an orphan. The film hints at how he gets by, but I’m not convinced. I’m also not sure as to how a teen can misconstrue the idea of miracle like a seven year-old. The antagonistic headmaster Father Fitzpatrick couldn’t have been more direct to the aspiring miracle performer: “God did not ask you to win Boston to get your mother out of coma. It doesn’t work like that.” I agree with the guy, but who is he to confirm God’s real intentions.

But really, the film overcomes all these flaws because it never fails to be quirky and charming. The success of the movie really depends on the character of Ralph itself. There’s a refreshing likeability Adam Butcher brings to the role. Ralph is not a funny person, but funny things happen to him. He may lack faith, moral purity, and prayer, but the kid is so focused and his strive for greatness is so pure-hearted that it’s quite inspiring. He earns our cheer and faith, however improbable the circumstances. And here’s what I learned from the movie: We might not create miracles, but God created us to be his miracles.

Grade: A-

CAST
Adam Butcher, Campbell Scott, Shauna MacDonald, Gordon Pinsent, Michael Kanev, Tamara Hope, Jennifer Tilly, Miranda Black, Frank Crudele, and Chris Ploszczansky
Screenplay by
Michael McGowan
Directed by
Michael McGowan
Rated PG-13 for some sexual content and partial nudity
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