A good-hearted underdog comedy/drama, "Saint Ralph" focuses on Ralph Walker (Adam Butcher), a teenager who's about to be kicked out of religious school by Father Fitzpatrick (Gordon Pinsent) despite, as Ralph notes, his being "destined for greatness." With his smoking and current fascination with women, Fitzpatrick gives him one last chance to turn his ways around by joining the cross-country team, or else he'll be booted off to public school.
A good kid at heart, despite his troubles, Ralph still has to face the heartbreak of having his mother in the hospital, as well as the other schoolkids, who bully him. Told that his mother needs a miracle to recover, Ralph sets out to try and find one: he continues to train with cross-country coach Father Hibbert (Campbell Scott, in a very good performance) in order to try and attempt what many consider impossible: winning the Boston Marathon.
Throughout the weeks leading up to the event, Ralph finds the kind of determination he never knew he had and the discipline that the heads of school never expected from him. He also finds himself a girlfriend (Tamara Hope) and gains the respect of his classmates. Admittedly, it's a rather formulaic picture at its core, but it succeeds due to an engaging performance from Scott and a confident first feature performance from star Adam Butcher.
While slightly draggy during a brief period in the middle, "Saint Ralph" remains a fine, inspirational feature about a young man's determination to try and reach the greatness he knows he can achieve. The movie is a little crude at first (it's not a family feature, at a PG-13 rating), but is ultimately a very nice mix of unsentimental drama with some dry humor.
VIDEO: "Saint Ralph" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is generally first-rate, with only a couple of slight faults. Sharpness and detail remained very good throughout much of the feature, with only a couple of slightly soft moments.
In terms of flaws, the picture did show a couple of small artifacts and some slight shimmering, but print flaws and edge enhancement were not spotted. Colors remained subdued throughout most of the film, but appeared accurately rendered.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation delivers the expected, as the forward-heavy sound mix is mainly dialogue-driven, aside from the occasional piece of score. Audio quality was fine, with clear, easily understood dialogue and well-recorded score.
EXTRAS: Director's commentary, behind-the-scenes feature and previews for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: A simple, entertaining story that offers good performances and a mixture of laughs and emotional moments, "Saint Ralph" isn't perfect, but it's mostly a pleasant surprise that I enjoyed. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment offers a very nice DVD, with good audio/video quality and a couple of extras. A definite rental recommendation.
The Film B+