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Apple Pie (2002 Video)
10/10
Apple Pie, about famous athletes and mothers, is a terrific film.
12 January 2005
I caught APPLE PIE on ESPN and, as an avid ESPN viewer, thought that this film was unusual because it did not focus, as most sports films do, on statistics, career highlights, and pure athletic achievement. Instead, this film focused on the influence of mothers on their sons and daughters and lessons taught early on. Many of these athletes, who include some of the best athletes on the planet (Shaquille O'Neal, Mia Hamm, Grant Hill, Drew Bledsoe as well as a number of Olympic athletes) failed miserably early in their careers, either on the field or off. And it was often their mothers who helped them to overcome obstacles, who encouraged them to day dream, and who cheered them on when they lost. The movie is moving, but also very funny. Shaq teaches his mother how to ride a Harley and she teaches him run-way model posses. The film is also emotional and poignant. Erik Weihenmayer, the blind climber who climbed Mount Everest reflects on the loss of his mother. He says that he can't find her when he visits her grave. Instead he finds her in the crunch of show under his feet, in the warmth of the rock he climbs, and in the wind. This film is a wonderful piece of work. I was very moved.
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2/10
Film about men training for the 1984 team is not accurate
23 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Having been an avid rower at the Olympic level, I found this film to have fallen short on a number of different levels. Although the cinematography was often quite beautiful, the screenplay was trite and inaccurate. The film, which is based loosely on Halberstam's very detailed and well-done book, THE Amateurs, attempts to follow the men from Harvard and Yale training for the 1984 Olympic Team (after suffering thru the 1980 boycott), focusing on single sculler Tiff Wood (a member of the 1980 Team who stays out another 4 years to try to make the 1984 team). The insertion of the Harvard coxswain as a love interest to the main protagonist, Tiff Wood, was irritating and demeaning. With respect to the actual rowing footage, using actors training for the Olympics was silly - they kept wobbling in their boats and their lack of skill was painfully obvious - and I actually laughed at loud. It would have been far better to use the extras (who were actual Olympians) and shoot real trained rowers, using only a few closeups as cutaways. From a script and character development standpoint, the film fails to create any three dimensional characters and the film claims "the tie between Tiff Wood's double and Joe Bouscaren's double in the Olympic Trials is now legend." Unfortunately, both doubles were hammered by the actual winner of the Olympic Trials, Paul Enquist and Brad Lewis, who came out of no-where to win the Olympic Gold Medal that year (1984). The interesting story, which is not covered in the film but which is covered in detail in Halberstam's book, is that the boats selected as "camp" boats (and thus given a designation that they are the preferred boats to race in the Olympics) all went over to Switzerland to compete prior to the Olympic Trials. When these boats returned to the US, they then had to prepare for the Olympic Trials - and had little time to rest prior to the trials. Every one of these camps boats was defeated (Enquist and Lewis in the double stayed home in the US and undertook unusual training methods, including meditation, shadow rowing, and other unorthodox ways, but which were very effective in terms of getting two people in sync) as well as the quad (which contained Bouscaren. The other interesting piece is the 1980 boycott, which the film skims over. An entire generation of athletes suffered. Both the men's and women's 1980 team have stayed quite close - and the men began to race the Soviet team on a regular basis after the boycott, which is what sport is all about.

It was such a shame to see the amount of money put into this picture and what the film truly could have been had it more closely followed Halberstam's book and been written by a talented screenwriter.
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10/10
Found this film very moving
16 December 2004
I saw this film on CNN. I thought it was unique and compelling and very funny. Richard Branson's story, in particular, was riveting. I had no idea that he was so shy as a young boy - and shyness was something which his mother, Eve, was not going to permit. The stories of Arthur Blank, who founded Home Depot, and Russell Simmons, the godfather of hip-hop, were very moving.

From the stories of these entrepreneurs, it is clear that the seeds of innovation and entrepreneurship are sown early on. As a young mother myself, I learned that maybe it is not such a good idea to allow your child to be shy. It is also important that kids have an opportunity to be creative and dream. Recommend highly.
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