Peaceful Warrior
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2

Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart. Written by Kevin Bernhardt. Directed by Victor Salva. In limited release.

A cocky college gymnast encounters a mysterious gas station attendant who is as much a Jedi-like guru as gas pump jockey. Wanting to make the Olympics, the student is drawn back to the gas station sage, hoping the wise old philosopher will teach him a mind set hes not getting at the gym. And thats just what the old man does. Nick Noltes ethereal guide tutors the young man, bestowing countless tidbits of wisdom.

Mixing instructions from Jesus, Confucius and the Karate Kid, this guy dispenses more fortune cookie proverbs than Mr. Miyagi. Most laughable is the casting of Mr. Nolte. Oh, hes a superb actor, but hes playing a temperate man, constantly advising the youth to refrain from sex, drugs and rock n roll. His lifelong habitual use of booze, cigarettes and other stimulants has taken its toll on the actors face. And with Noltes gravel lined vocal cords sounding as if hed just given up scotch for bourbon, he simply does not reflect the temperance of the character he plays in this film.

Also troubling is the unlikable lead character. The young gymnast is self-centered and uncaring at the beginning. And even after his life lessons are learned, hes still sullen and self involved.

While I commend the filmmakers for stressing the importance of spiritual matters in an era of movies that focus more on mans baser instincts, the insights incorporated are far more New Age than biblically sound. There are some solid dramatic moments, but mostly the film drones on, aided by several lifeless clichd montages. Its a movie that wanted to be profound. But the lapse of credibility detracts from the life lessons. For example, when our young hero first meets the Nick Nolte character, the old man suddenly, mystically appears on the roof as if hed jumped up there from a dead standstill. How this was achieved is never explained. There a whole lot about this character that is never explained, making him seem like a representative of the metaphysical world. Its filled with the type of self exploration gibberish that satisfies the followers of Tony Robbins more so than those seeking biblical truths.

If I may, allow me to suggest a video alternative: The Apostle. This perceptive drama, written, directed and starring Robert Duvall, never condescends, nor is it antagonistic toward people of faith while telling its story of a good but imperfect mans redemption. (The Apostle is rated PG-13: I found nothing offensive for exploitive purposes. The implied adultery, its one violent scene, the reverend's faulty nature, and a couple of mild expletives serve to further the story rather than shock us or malign the ministry.)

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Lionsgate

Summary
Crude Language: Some crude language from college boys, usually in reference to young women.
Obscene Language: 4 or 5 obscenities, usually the s-word. Also there are several minor expletives (damns and hells).
Profanity: 7 misuses of Christs name, coming from college boys.
Violence: A graphic motorcycle accident; a brief fist fight
Sexual Intercourse: There are a couple of sex scenes.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: A couple of conversations concerning sex.
Drug Abuse: College aged drinking in several scenes.
Other: None
Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Older teens and adults

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