Mixing high-school football, Native American mysticism and jailhouse heartache, this morale-boosting family drama crosses lines of credibility faster than its teen hero can cross the goal line.
Greg Cima (Jason Wiles) is an aspiring gridiron star frustrated when his mother (Margot Kidder) moves him from Las Vegas to Kanab, Utah, to be closer to his incarcerated father. Greg finds the undefeated Kanab High School Mustangs under the iron rule of Aryan-blond class bully David Promisco (Jake
Busey). Nobody defies David Promisco. Not only is he team captain, his father is warden at the prison where every member of the community seems to have a loved one locked up.
Though barred from practice by the Promiscos, Greg gets private, unorthodox coaching, Yoda-style, from Indian wise man Wa Tho Huck (Russell Means). Poking around Wa Tho Huck's ramshackle trailer, Greg realizes his mentor is the ghost of legendary athlete Jim Thorpe, who lost his Olympics medals
over a technicality, gave in to drink and despair, and went back to Earth. Now Thorpe (in spirit form) has to ensure that Greg is ready when David gets hurt during The Big Game and the Kanab Mustangs need a fresh quarterback to continue their unbroken string of championships.
WINDRUNNER contains unconvincing morality lessons in self-esteem, forgiveness, and respecting the environment. With regard to the last, only the magnificent Utah scenery makes a lasting impression. Wiles is serviceable as the traditional underdog, while Means, Lakota
activist/author-turned-performer, with major roles in THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS and Disney's POCOHONTAS (this film was in fact done for the Disney Channel, and released to video in 1995) leaves little doubt he could have handled a straight biopic of Thorpe capably, without all the warmed-over
KARATE KID practice sessions and a climax that has Wa Tho Huck riding a white stallion up to the Happy Hunting Grounds. At best, WINDRUNNER could introduce Jim Thorpe to any youngsters lacking the patience for Burt Lancaster's gimmick-free performance in JIM THORPE--ALL AMERICAN (1951).
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- Released: 1994
- Rating: PG
- Review: Mixing high-school football, Native American mysticism and jailhouse heartache, this morale-boosting family drama crosses lines of credibility faster than its teen hero can cross the goal line. Greg Cima (Jason Wiles) is an aspiring gridiron star frustrat… (more)