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Runners High

Justine Jacob and Alex D. da Silva's "Runners High" follows four kids from the mean streets of Oakland, Calif., as they prep for the 26.2-mile Los Angeles Marathon. Since "Hoop Dreams," such docus about inner-city youth finding inner strength through athletics have been ubiquitous, and this one isn't edgy or inspirational enough to stand out. Nonetheless, the story has appeal for educational TV and classroom exposure.

With:
With: Marvin Aravelo, Spencer Hooper, Alphonzo Jackson, Frederick Jones, Alma Navarro, Ebony Smith.

Justine Jacob and Alex D. da Silva’s “Runners High” follows four kids from the mean streets of Oakland, Calif., as they prep for the 26.2-mile Los Angeles Marathon. Since “Hoop Dreams,” such edgy-but-inspirational docus about inner-city youth finding inner strength through athletics have been ubiquitous, and this one isn’t edgy or inspirational enough to stand out. Nonetheless, the story has built-in appeal for educational TV and classroom exposure.

Volunteer org SRO (Students Run Oakland) trains teens for the L.A. event, providing a structure that can pay dividends in other arenas (like academics). Lure of the trip itself is motivation enough for some kids, like attitude-impaired Ebony. Fred is a natural runner whose unstable home life has made him rebellious. But the pic misses chances for real dramatic involvement by digging deeper into these two African-American students’ off-track lives. Still, they get much more attention than Latinos Marvin or Alma; latter’s posse of identically clad best-friend running mates rep another potential human-interest goldmine filmmakers barely take notice of. Nor is the climactic marathon handled with much suspense or flair. Still, personalities (including tough-loving coaches) are agreeable, pic’s message upbeat if uninspired.

Runners High

Production: A Jacob Prods. production. Produced by Justine Jacob. Executive producer, Oren Jacob. Directed by Justine Jacob, Alex D. da Silva.

Crew: Camera (color, DV), da Silva; editor, Joshua Callaghan; music, Marco d'Ambrosio. Reviewed at San Francisco Film Festival, April 24, 2006. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: With: Marvin Aravelo, Spencer Hooper, Alphonzo Jackson, Frederick Jones, Alma Navarro, Ebony Smith.

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