Olympic Dreams, the first movie filmed inside an Olympic Village, is vulnerable and sweet — with huge helpings of agonizing and annoying.
Directed by Jeremy Teicher (Tracktown), the film was shot at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. It’s the story of two adorable dorks — Ezra, a dentist, and Penelope, a cross-country skier competing in the Games — meeting cute, being awkward and falling in love (to, it must be noted, a horrible soundtrack that pounds so loudly it often smothers the dialogue).
Nick Kroll (Loving) plays Ezra, who’s come to the Olympics to volunteer his dental services (and floss evangelism) during a “break” from his fiancée back home. He’s a lonely, nice guy who’s sensitive and pretty much moved to tears by the grandeur of the opening ceremonies.
Ezra quickly falls for Penelope, played by former Olympic runner Alexi Pappas (Teicher’s real-life wife and collaborator on his previous films), whose choice of such a difficult, solitary sport is spot-on with her quirky introversion. She’s also sensitive and lonely and is pretty much moved to tears watching other athletes take the podium at a medal ceremony.
Penelope struggles with her sport, her self-esteem and her ability to make friends — all while the movie struggled to make me care about any of it. Too many situations and conversations in Olympic Dreams are the “deep” kind, familiar in college dorm rooms after a few skunky beers and back-to-back repeats of anything by Pink Floyd.
Even though Kroll and Pappas, with their expressive eyes and gentle chemistry, are solidly cast, Olympic Dreams is an emotional dud. It has no stakes of any importance — no thrill of victory or agony of defeat. And as earnestly as they tried, I never felt invested in what would become of this sad, boring couple in this sad, boring movie.
Now playing at Grail Moviehouse