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Saint Ralph
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Reviews & Ratings for
Saint Ralph More at IMDbPro »

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34 out of 37 people found the following review useful:

Be inspired...

9/10
Author: pjsoptional from Canada
20 April 2005

I'm not a catholic, certainly not a saint, and can hardly even call myself a jogger, but I found this movie wonderfully inspiring, witty and enjoyable from start to finish. I was thoroughly impressed with Adam Butcher's performance; he portrayed young Ralph's emotions (and the struggles of youth) so genuinely that he brought tears to my eyes during several scenes. A truly uplifting message in the film, brought home with brilliance. The producers were able to turn back the clock on Hamilton in a convincing way, with the appropriate prudishness of dress and behaviour for the private catholic school community in the mid-'50s. The sound track / score was excellent as well.

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33 out of 36 people found the following review useful:

Take Your Family and Go See This Movie!

10/10
Author: gbbetts from Canada
17 April 2005

Saint Ralph is a triumph. It approaches the "inspirational" movie genre (think everything from Rocky to Chariot's of Fire) but manages to evoke a genuine and unique flavour in the form. It is fresh, original, funny, and extremely moving. The characters are well developed, the plot intriguing and inviting, and the dialogue simply priceless. People literally clapped in the theatre; more than half hung around for all of the credits, and groups were huddled around posters seeking more information about the film.

My favourite detail: I was simply astonished at the music score for the climatic scene. Gord Downie's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah is breathtakingly beautiful, and perfectly set. Adam Butcher, playing Ralph, in the scene transcends the child-actor role. His face displays an exquisite complexity of emotions, chilling and sublime, while Downie sings. Truly marvelous.

The premise, by now, is familiar: a boy's mother falls into a coma, and he believes a miracle will awaken her. The movie positions itself in that delicious but awkward transition between boyhood innocence and adulthood stoicism or cynicism. Ralph is a child, becoming a man, learning the limits of his own body, his mother's body, and all the while confronting adults inability to imagine or dream. He dream's on and takes the audience on a sweet journey that will rekindle your fire. It truly is an inspirational film, without being sappy or relying on overwrought clichés.

A truly promising start for Michael McGowan, a new Canadian filmmaker.

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30 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Surprisingly enjoyable

8/10
Author: kd1104 from Bethesda MD
25 July 2005

Air Canada was showing this a few months ago. With nothing better to do I thought I'd give it a try. It's nice to start watching a movie you have never heard of. And not having anyone else's viewpoint to prejudice you. At least when it is this good. The initial disappointment of there being no well known movies on offer soon evaporated. After an uncertain start the wholly believable characters win you over. A bit corny at times for sure, but funny, and well acted. And ultimately one of the most moving films I have seen in a while (ok discounting Finding Neverland). An excellent coming of age tale, which I enjoyed retelling to my kids.

A must to rent.

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26 out of 28 people found the following review useful:

Wonderful Film with 1950's Canadian Schoolboy Theme

9/10
Author: imxo
5 August 2005

Saint Ralph is a throwback to the wonderful films of the 1940's and 50's in which hope springs eternal, no matter the roadblocks that one may encounter along the way. However, it's never corny. It is a film with a lot of wry, gentle humor, especially for those who may have gone to parochial schools when they were staffed primarily by nuns, brothers, and priests. My wife tells me that all over the theater men of a certain age could be heard chuckling at the familiar scenes from their youth.

Lots of references pop into my head as I think about this film. I can't help but recall "Chariots of Fire", British schoolboy movies, and even "Catcher in the Rye." I believe this Canadian film could only have been made in an English-speaking Commonwealth country, possibly Britain, but certainly Canada or Australia. It's pretty definite, however, that this kind of film could never have been made in the U.S. There is a certain sensibility that we south of the Canadian border seem to have lost forever.

This movie is not perfect, but it certainly ranks as one of the most satisfying films I've seen in a very long time. The cast is uniformly good, the writing is spot on, and there is even a period of real suspense. I most heartily recommend this movie.

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17 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

A wonderful study of Canada in the fifties.

8/10
Author: Brigid O Sullivan (wisewebwoman) from Toronto, Canada
17 October 2005

One of the best movies I've seen all year. I tried to catch it in the theatre but it was vapourized too quickly and having seen it I'm completely baffled- surely Canada can afford to promote movies a little better than this. Many such missed opportunities come to mind ("Marion Bridge", "The Hanging Garden" et al). This is one of the best of its genre, the extremely gritty dedicated athlete/musician/singer/painter who takes on the world against all odds. But this is done with a twist. It all takes place in the 1950s in very Catholic parochial school Ontario.

Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a brazen but cute 14-year-old student fighting the system but inwardly grieving his Dad, who died in the recent war (WW2)and his extremely ill mother who lies in a coma in the hospital. This is never sentimentalized, his exchanges with his mother before she slips into her coma are beautifully written and believable.

How he cobbles together his faith and goes out to seek a miracle is the crux of the story but there are many lovely sidebars, his almost-girlfriend who wants to be a nun, his best friend who forges notes for him, a fun loving nurse, played by the never disappointing Jennifer Tilly, squeaky voice in place and some disbelieving factory workers who mock his attempts at athleticism.

Ralph is a fully developed character, his sinful side clashing consistently with his puritanical, self-punishing side, his innate flirtatiousness offset by his being picked upon by the older boys in his school. Adam nails the role to such a degree that one forgets he is acting.

A younger priest (Campbell Scott plays this beautifully) with a secret past agrees to help the young boy and Gordon Pinsent plays the part of the older rigid priest with conviction even though he has some thin dialogue to sink his teeth into – the movie's only weakness.

The sexuality content is handled well and honestly with none of that gruesome teenage guffawing that litters other movies of this ilk. Because of this content it would not be suitable for children which is a shame, but it is not gratuitous and is an intrinsic part of the Catholic sin quotient of the era. 8 out of 10. A marvelous, thoughtful film.

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Delightful

8/10
Author: artzau from Sacramento, CA
30 December 2005

Every once in a while, a "feel good" movie pops up that surprises me. Always on the look-out for movies that my wife will watch, I picked this off the shelf and was simply delighted watching it. The story was better than the run of the mill tear-jerker and was made credible by the performance of young Mr. Butcher in the title role, the sweet and beautiful teenage Ms. Hope and the convincing performances of Campbell Scott and Gordon Pinsent as the priests with opposing views. To a pair of cradle Catholics like my wife and I who grew up in the 50s, the bittersweet romance of coming of age was very compelling. In short, this is a good film. Enough nostalgia to spark old memories for oldies like us and with enough sentiment not to be overly sentimental and maudlin. Check it out. You'll be glad you did.

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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Athletic determination of a spirited boy against a backdrop of pathos.

10/10
Author: SpaceComics from Colorado
6 August 2005

Clearly the best movie out this month (July/August 2005 - I've seen most of them). The easiest way to tell you about it is to compare it to similar movies, and the first that came to mind were Lucas (Corey Haim) and Rudy (Sean Astin). What Saint Ralph shares in common with these films is the extreme athletic determination, against all odds, of a spirited boy from a pathetic background. And it's the best of it's kind since Rudy (1993), at least, and in my opinion since Lucas (1986).

Ralph (Adam Butcher) is a naughty but naive 14-year-old boy, ready to take almost everything literally, now faced with the paradox of faith. His widowed mother is apparently dying in the hospital, and falls into a coma early in the story. A doctor says it will take a miracle to wake her.

Ralph is an interesting character, his even blend of pure and impure motives providing both the humor that make the film entertaining, and the realism that make it believable. His self-abuse in every sense defines the term, from the usual meaning to literally sanding his knees to pray in a pan of alcohol, the latter recommended by his girlfriend, who aspires to be a nun.

When his Catholic school's cross country coach says it would be a miracle if anyone on his team won the Boston Marathon, Ralph's literal mind seizes a fallacious opportunity. If he wins the Boston Marathon, it would be a miracle, and that's what his mother needs to survive. Most of the movie is about his training to run that race, both physical and spiritual, with the help of a priest (Campbell Scott), a nurse (Jennifer Tilly), and his girlfriend (Tamara Hope).

The blend of comedy and pathos is effective, the film kept entertaining by the comedy in the foreground, while the fact that Ralph's mother is dying keeps us interested in the outcome and rooting for the boy. Even if you don't like running or sports in general, the life at stake, or at least the boy's faith at stake, makes this race important.

There may be a bit too much sexual comedy for most parents to let small children see. For instance, after Ralph's caught in a venal sin in the swimming pool, that involved spying on the girl's locker room, he tells his mother "It was really an accident. The manufacture of the pool was faulty." The incident becomes a running joke, demonstrating Ralph's character trait of not caring what other people think. He later says they didn't really need to drain the pool (I'm not going to explain that, you've got to see it, but it was funny). But it's not as crude as other current comedies like The Wedding Crashers and The Bad News Bears.

I recommend Saint Ralph specifically to anyone who liked Lucas or Rudy, and generally to anyone old enough to take the humor maturely.

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10 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Knowing one's saints

8/10
Author: jotix100 from New York
19 December 2007

Ralph Walker, the young man at the center of this story, gets more than his share of bad situations at a tender age. Ralph, who has lost his father, sees his own mother struck by a serious illness and watches her go into a coma. Ralph's spirit is never broken and never questions his bad luck the way some other teen would. Ralph is never given to despair, or emotional outbursts when he can't do much to help the situations he is thrown into. Ultimately, Ralph is a real winner, not only because he decides to do something about his life, but because he is an optimist at heart who will never be defeated.

Michael McGowan, the Canadian creator of this enormously appealing film has gathered the right elements to make us go with him in this fantastic voyage that shows us the positive side of life. Mr. McGowan was lucky in getting Adam Kutcher to portray Ralph Walker. This young actor shows us he is a natural who under the guidance of the director, gives a tremendous performance and steals our hearts in the process.

"Saint Ralph" is one of the best things that have come out of Canada in recent years. Campbell Scott gives a good performance as Father Hibbert, the man who guides Ralph in the right direction. The excellent Gordon Pinsent, makes the perfect head master Father Fitzpatrick, a man who is never in touch with the young people he is supposed to lead and help shape their minds into being good citizens. Jennifer Tilly, Tamara Hope, Shauna MacDonald, and Michael Kaney, are also seen in key minor roles.

The film is highly recommended because it gives the viewer a positive take on life. Michael McGowan must be congratulated in giving us a movie that will be hard to forget because it feels real from beginning to end.

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15 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Pleasant Canadian Comedy

8/10
Author: Proud_Canadian from Ontario, Canada
12 September 2004

was pleasantly surprised by Saint Ralph. It's a Canadian film about a 14 year old boy who goes to Catholic School in 1950's Hamilton. It stars Campbell Scott, Gordon Pinsent, Adam Butcher, Shauna MacDonald and was directed by Michael McGowan. It's about a Ralph Walker who's mother is sick in hospital and who's father died long ago. He is a smooth operator, sort of an Eddie Haskell type with the adults but a complete loser with his peers. When his mother goes into a coma he's told that only a miracle would wake her up. He is forced to join the track team as punishment where the coach, Father Hibbert (Campbell Scott) jokes about there only being 6 months until the Boston Marathon. When Ralph asks if the team is going to run in Boston, Father Hibbert tells him he was only joking and that it would be a miracle if anyone on the team won the Boston Marathon. Thus, Ralph becomes committed to the idea of winning the Marathon and getting the miracle so his mom will wake up. In the way is Father Fitzpatrick (played by Gordon Pinsent) the head of the school who feels that chasing miracles borders on blasphemy. There is a mix of comedy and drama and the ending is a bit of a heart-tugger but I enjoyed this film. Note, I would not bring children under 12 to see it since there is a scene in the pool where Ralph accidentally sees into the women's change room and at the same time encounters a water jet which causes him to lose control. There is also some smoking and drinking by Ralph and a few swear words. It sort of reminded me of Heaven Help Us but funnier and more poignant. Adam Butcher was quite funny and earnest while Campbell Scott is always solid and Gordon Pinsent is one of Canada's best kept acting secrets. Even if you aren't Canadian it was a nice popcorn film 7.5/10.

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8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

fantastic

10/10
Author: gary-elrick from United Kingdom
30 January 2006

I'm be no means a film buff but this movie was totally extraordinary, a really feel good movie in every way, I'm being as honest as i totally can and i can only say watch and enjoy and feel good,all the actors in this movie were outstanding ,even though I'm not a catholic and the movie is based on the catholic faith , it does not put you off the movie or even put you off any religion, it only makes you feel good , the only surprise for myself was it was never released at the cinemas, maybe in the USA but was definitely not released in the UK, pity as this could have been one of the biggest surprises of 2004/2005.

Gary

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