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SAINT RALPH

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 Michael McGowan's slim coming-of-age comedy, set in 1953 at a Catholic high school in Hamilton, Ontario, finds the school's 14-year-old miscreant, Ralph (Adam Butcher), pursuing a miracle: the winning of the Boston Marathon. For Ralph, who's one heartbeat away from being an orphan, reckons that a miracle can lift his dying mum from her coma. Saint Ralph's intentions are good but the execution is wholly familiar: It's Chariots of Fire crossed with Do Black Patented Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up? -- and sprinkled with plenty of prescribed Canadian content (a dose of anachronistic tunes from North of the Border singer-songwriters). And throughout, the tone feels a trifle off: Isn't Ralph's blind quest more tragic than comic? With Campbell Scott as a Nietzsche-spouting priest and Jennifer Tilly as a no-nonsense nurse, Saint Ralph seems to carry more potential than it ultimately delivers, though its small charms and triumphant-underdog plot may win over less cynical hearts. (AH)

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