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Prefontaine Reviews

In HOOP DREAMS director Steve James's movie about the late track star Steve Prefontaine -- Pre to his fans -- the deliciously chiseled Jared Leto models no fewer than seven distinct hairstyles and looks. For non-jock viewers these will probably be the highlight of this white-bread portrait of an obscure American athlete. Prefontaine is the type of character Hollywood loves: charismatic, gifted, brimming with self-destructive cockiness and, above all, a winner, despite the fact that the overweening, victory-obsessed Pre lost the biggest race of his life, at the 1972 Olympics. James' scrappy, low-budget picture tries to buck the stereotypical elements, but it still plays like another installment in the ongoing Tom Cruise story: ambitious young man with a heart of gold makes good. Is it any surprise, then, that there's another Prefontaine picture in the works, and it's a Tom Cruise production? R. Lee Ermey, Ed O'Neill and newcomer Leto deliver solid and satisfying performances (Lindsay Crouse is undermined by an embarrassing German accent), but faux-documentary interviews with actors subbing for Pre's family and friends look like Saturday Night Live spoofs, complete with bad aging makeup. Steve Prefontaine must have been something special -- everyone says so -- but there's no magic on the screen.