‘Olympic Dreams’ Review: A Hopeful Rom-Com Fails to Medal

‘Olympic Dreams’ Review: A Hopeful Rom-Com Fails to Medal

What if instead of the drama of athletes risking life, limb and loss for their countries, the Olympic Games set the scene for a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy? Such is the premise of “Olympic Dreams.”

An Olympic runner, Alexi Pappas, plays the fictional Penelope, a cross-country skier whose personal best isn’t enough to bring home a medal from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Ezra (Nick Kroll) on the other hand, is just happy to be invited. He is a dentist, part of the medical staff for the athletes in the Olympic Village, where he happily advises patients who are more familiar with pelvic fractures than dental floss. He sees Penelope in the cafeteria, and he is captivated. They strike up a flirtation, and the movie follows them through a fling that unfolds against a once-in-a-lifetime backdrop.

The setting of “Olympic Dreams” is clearly the film’s greatest asset, and the director, Jeremy Teicher, shot in a fly-on-the-wall style during the event. Before the well-known comedian Kroll appears, it would be easy to mistake this low-fi movie for a sports documentary rather than a narrative feature. Athletes are extras, dates occur during curling practices, and there is a little thrill in being granted access to the backstage of one of the world’s most selective and stage-managed events. But compared to the drama of the competition, the story and its characters always feel slight, an excuse to hang out among Olympians rather than a movie that builds upon (or for that matter critiques) its surroundings.

Olympic Dreams

Rated PG-13 for language. Running time: 1 hour 22 minutes.

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