Take a Drink: every time it rains.
Do a Shot: whenever someone’s statements come full circle.
Take a Drink: every time Jesse mentions marriage.
Take a Drink: ehenever someone gets hurt or talks about being hurt.
Do a Shot: every time Hitler throws shade.
By: The Cinephiliac (Three Beers) –
Hitler was a dick. That’s pretty much a universal truth that most people would agree with. Yes, the lackeys around him were just as much of selfish pricks as he, but his strange, push-broom mustached face is responsible for coalescing a mass of German people during a time of a major self-identity crisis and convincing theme that the Jews were the cause of all their country’s problems. Hitler wanted to prove to the world and himself that Germans, particularly the Aryan race, were superior to all others on the planet. In 1936, Hitler thought he had the perfect platform to blast his beliefs on top of when the Olympics took place in Berlin. What Hitler and his regime didn’t expect was that in America, more specifically in Columbus, Ohio, African-American athlete Jesse Owens was breaking records in track and field and skipping his way to the Olympics to deliver a personal load of spluge to Adolf Hitler’s face. Race is the tale of the beautiful moment when Owens broke records and tasted victory in the homeland of a delusional douchebag.
Sorry Steven Joyce, maybe you can photoshop Hitler in this to save face.
Jesse Owens is an American hero who in his time didn’t receive the proper credit he deserved due to America’s close-minded, racist way of viewing the world and each other. Of all of my years in the public school system, I remember only learning about Jesse Owens in my six grade class when I was given his name as part of a Black History research project. Even then, after all the research my little 12-year-old brain could muster, I don’t think I truly understood just how important Owen’s was as a figure or how powerful of an athlete he was. Stephen Hopkins’ Race effectively illustrates Owens’s life, the pressures he endured, and the triumphs he accomplished.
Owens had a natural talent that primed him for greatness, but he was made professionally greater by rigorous training and hard work aided by his coach Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis). Owens also showcased admirable traits of being loyal, committed, and owning up to his mistakes. He’s the epitome of a Wheaties box figure and Race is a film that capitalizes and effectively captures these elements. Director of Photography Peter Levy illuminates the screen through beautiful lighting that captures the time period through dusty nostalgia and bright colors that almost glow on screen. Another impressive element of Race is how it covers an expansive amount of time along with issues that got swept under the rug over the years, like the President of the International Committee Avery Brundage’s shady involvement with the Nazi’s.
Eat Wheaties and you can be privately recognized for your achievements, but publicly shunned by your country like Jesse Owens and the thousands of other African Americans in the history of America.
While the performances across the board are genuine and adequate (the script is to blame for the film’s subdued performances), Jason Sudeikis was by far the most annoying aspect and weakest link of Race. Sudeikis’s forte is comedic roles, so it completely baffled me that he was even chosen for the mostly serious role of Coach Snyder. Sudeikis doesn’t embody his character in any way. He’s just Jason Sudeikis, nothing more, which takes away from the scenes he’s featured in. Sudeikis’s shtick of being a smart ass know it all just doesn’t have a quality place here.
“You guys like me right? I’m still funny right?”
Race drops the ball on certain key situations that the real life race played in social politics. While I understand that the story should stay focused on Owens and the backdrop of the Olympics, Race could have been more effective had it shed more of a light on the background or roles of other key players involved in the Olympics, like Mark Glickman and Sam Stroller, two Jewish relay racers replaced in the Olympics by Owens and Ralph Metcalfe (another important African-American figure transformed into a background cut out). German director Leni Riefenstahl is given a major role in the film as the Nazi’s resident filmmaker who documented much of the 1936 Olympics. It’s enticing to see how many cameras she had recording and the bravery of her desire to give credit where it was due to Owens and his accomplishments. Yet, we barely see any of Riefenstahl’s real-life footage, not even in the closing credits. It’s not hard to track her footage down, mind you. YouTube houses much of it, which further made me question why it wasn’t featured anywhere in the film.
“Wait, so we’re not making a snuff film?”
While the role of women is present, Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse’s screenplay could’ve pressed for stronger roles for the women featured. And sure, the tension throughout the film is overly melodramatic and simplistic due to the obviousness that Owens would win. Regardless, Race speeds past its flaws to make a heartfelt film that vitalizes the legacy of Jesse Owens and shows how, despite his great achievements, his own government, the American government, ignored him. Owens ultimately returned to a country where he was forced to enter his own celebration dinner separately from his white guests. Race reminds audiences that as a country we still have a lot of discussing to do and even more amends to make for past repressions and current issues stemming from a racist system.