Chasing a Dream (2009) starring Treat Williams, Joanna Going, Andrew Lawrence, Jake McLaughlin, Jarrod Bailey, Kathe E. Mazur, Delpaneaux Wills directed by David Burton Morris Movie Review

Chasing a Dream (2009)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Andrew Lawrence as Cam Stiles in Chasing a Dream

Running on Faith

Let me give you the facts, "Chasing a Dream" or "Miles from Nowhere" as it is sometimes known is a TV Movie, a faith & family movie with a storyline which mixes sport, a difficult father son relationship and guilt. So with that knowledge if I told you that "Chasing a Dream" was a little too nice, a little too predictable and a little bit false I hope you wouldn't be surprised. Basically it is exactly what you would expect from a faith & family movie and if you are not use to this type of family values entertainment then it is going to seem seriously cheesy. But for those who are, who enjoy the moral values of this sort of movies will find a pleasant, easy to watch movie.

Cam (Andrew Lawrence - Jack Frost) and John (Jake McLaughlin) were friends from childhood and whilst Cam was pushed into playing football by his dad, the school's head coach, he still enjoyed hanging out with John who as a talented runner was aiming to run a sub 4 minute mile. So when John is suddenly killed in a road accident Cam blames himself and part out of guilt and part out of honour decides to try and achieve John's dream of running a sub 4-minute mile. But his decision to drop football to focus on running causes issues between Cam and his father Gary (Treat Williams - What Happens in Vegas) who over the years has become less of a father and more of a full time coach to his son.

Treat Williams as Gary Stiles in Chasing a Dream

Now when it comes to storylines "Chasing a Dream" has what I would call a cliche storyline mixed in with an unbelievable one. The cliche is the storyline revolving around Cam and his father Gary because as head coach of the school football team Gary has become coach first father second and over the years it has got to Cam. For those who have watched "One Tree Hill" it is basically the same sort of relationship which Nathan had with Dan, the parent trying to push their son to live their dream, partly so their son has a better life but also out of sporting glory. It does mean that this storyline sees Cam and Gary at each other's throats as Cam has enough of his father's demands.

But then there is the second storyline and to be honest the unbelievable one because Cam blames himself for the death of his lifelong friend John, a talented track athlete who was determined to beat the 4 minute mile. So half in honour of his dead friend and half out of guilt Cam drops football and sets about running a sub 4 minute mile which leads to more confrontation between him and his father. The thing is that Andrew Lawrence has a footballers frame, he is short and stocky and so when ever we see him running it never looks right especially when up against slimmer taller runners. Lawrence is not helped by some weak training montages which lack the adrenalin that these sort of sport focussed scenes demand. It makes it unbelievable as is the cliche fact that as Cam sets about following John's training log he gets visions of his dead friend guiding him.

Of course this all builds to a head not only when it comes to Cam running in competition to try and beat the 4 minute mile but also the relationship between father and son. Now one of these story threads ends up ending exactly as you expect, it is basically a cliche but the other switches things up a bit. I won't tell you which because it is one of the better parts of the movie.

Now as I already mentioned Andrew Lawrence does look too stocky to convince as a runner and unfortunately that is not the only issue with the character. Here we have a character who through blaming himself for the death of John has sunk into depression, distraught at the loss of his friend but unfortunately when ever Cam is meant to be upset he comes across more as being sulky. Lawrence is not the only issue as several other characters, many of which are minor also have some obvious weaknesses. The saving grace is Treat Williams as Gary because Williams gives his character different angles, on one hand he does deliver the kindness of a really great dad who puts an arm around the shoulders of his inconsolable son but then you get the switch as he is a more of a coach to his son than a father, more concerned with Cam as a player than his child. It is a character which Williams has delivered before, the nice parent who is very opinionated and demanding but he does it well.

What this all boils down to is that "Chasing a Dream" is a grade A example of a faith & family TV movie and as such for those not accustomed to this sort of movie it is both weak and cheesy. But it has a good message and the bonus of Treat Williams who again delivers a solid performance which lifts the movie from being poor to average.