Released 1997


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Movie Summary

Steve James
Prefontaine is a biographical film directed by Steve James the chronicles the true story of Steve Prefontaine (Jared Leto), an Olympic runner, whose life ended in a tragic car crash. No one thought "Pre" would make it as a runner. He was short with uneven legs but his desire to run brought him under the care of Bill Bowerman (R. Lee Ermey), a tough as nails running coach at the University of Oregon, and Bill Dellinger (Ed O'Neill), a three time Olympian runner who was Bowerman's assistant coach. Both of his coaches push Pre to make sure that his arrogance matches his skills as he fights for the NCAA championship and Olympic qualification. As Pre deals with the aftermath of being an Olympic athlete, one with an Olympic committee imposed life of a pauper, Bowerman turns his garage business of shoe making into the company known today as Nike. Pre's stubborn attitude put him in a battle against the Amateur Athletic Union, which tried to dictate when Americans could take part in any races, just before he dies in a fatal car accident. Though the focus is on Pre, Prefontaine tells the story from the viewpoints of his coach Bill Dellinger and his girlfriend, Nancy Alleman (Amy Locane), two people who watched Pre's rise and fall.moreless

Metacritic Score

  • 50

    Los Angeles Times Kenneth Turan

    Though it is always pleasant and agreeable, this film has the bland and undemanding texture that characterizes movies made for network TV.

  • 50

    Variety Todd McCarthy

    This first dramatic feature by "Hoop Dreams" director Steve James has one foot still squarely planted in the docu aesthetic and notably lacks any psychological interest or emotiona...

  • 40

    The New York Times Elvis Mitchell

    But even after the documentary affectation gives way to a more conventional narrative, the film has trouble ringing true.

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Drama, Sports


Biography, 90s