Hood to Coast Directed by: Christoph Baaden Running Time: 1 hr 45 mins Rating: NR Release Date: January 11, 2011 (limited -- click HoodtoCoastMovie.com for details)
PLOT: Hood to Coast is the world's largest team relay race, and this documentary chronicles four teams in 2008, with different motivations for running the race, as they attempt to finish all 197 miles.
WHO'S IT FOR? For those who live in or love Oregon it's a must see, for the rest the most important thing to realize is this film focuses on personal stories, not who's going to win. Prepare to laugh and cry.
It's not hard to make Oregon look good. The Hood to Coast race might be the perfect way to show it off. It's really only missing specific shots of Multnomah falls, the still underrated wine country, Crater Lake and and whatever you are now thinking about that I didn't list here. Baaden and his crew do a great job with the look of this documentary. The gorgeous cinematography is really only the backdrop though. It's the vibe that this team race creates that will really entertain. During the documentary, someone mentions a Woodstock-like vibe and it does have that feeling (not that I was there). Once you see this film, you immediately want to be apart of it. Sure, running throughout the night in six- to seven-mile stints might be too much for many of you, but if Rachel (you'll meet her down below) can do it, can't we all?
Let's talk about the four teams, shall we? I'm going to rank the teams in order of my preference. Please keep in mind, I didn't dislike any teams, and even though this documentary isn't about winning, I'm inserting a little competition of my own. Here are the final results ...
4. Heart N' Sole. These women are all over 50 years old. For some, Kathy will be an inspiration. After all, she collapsed and paramedics were able to revive her during the race the year before. For me, it's an amazing personal study of being who you want to be and not listening to what others say. In this case though, "others" is mainly Kathy's doctor, who thinks she needs to take it easy. I loved rolling my eyes at Kathy, while still being impressed with her heart.
3. Dead Jocks. Just keep in mind six minutes and 50 seconds when thinking about this team. That's how long it takes most of these guys (average age 52) to run a mile. And yes, they are running more than one mile at a time. They describe their team better than I could, "Being on a select, but really irrelevant fraternity." They flirt their way across the finish line while wracking up road kills (people they pass) along the way. Considering I am 34 and already on my second (minor) knee surgery because once again, I am the tallest film critic in America, I can only be in awe of these men, their ages, and their fun competitive drive.
2. Thunder and Laikaning. Laika Studios is a Portland-based company behind films like the gorgeous looking Coraline. Most of them sit all day and never think about running. That's what makes this team so entertaining. Most choose not to train, but to instead focus their attention on another Portland tradition, local beer. Rachel's repetitive conversation about running a mountain is the funniest part of the movie for me. You can tell she is not doing it for a laugh, but instead it's her way of trying to understand the insanity she is about to undertake. Thunder and Laikaning will be most viewers way to feel they too could run this race and have a great time doing it.
1. R. Bowe. Just in case you're not sure how to pronounce the last name, it's Bo, as in Bo and Luke Duke. Yeah, that's right, I just inserted a "Dukes of Hazard" reference to the most heart-wrenching part of this film. The main reason is because if I'm not careful, isn't going to get awfully dusty in here while I write this part. There are certain films that make me tear up every time no matter what. The end of Rudy nails me whether I like it or not. I've now seen Hood to Coast twice and can officially add it near the top of my list of movies that will make me cry. The reason is team R. Bowe. Ryan Bowe died when he was 30. This race served as a way for his wife, his divorced parents, his brother and many friends to come together and honor him. While we don't get tons of information about Ryan's life, we do understand that Hood to Coast serves as his perfect funeral.
This movie seems perfectly dedicated for a Sunday afternoon. When you think of a race, speed immediately comes to mind. With Hood to Coast they take their time. It's just more than an hour and a half, but it feels longer in a really good way. You feel the length of the race and most importantly you feel the happiness and the struggles of what these people go through to complete Hood to Coast. It's tears of joy and pain, Hood to Coast captures Oregon.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10