TRI: A Movie That Should’ve Tried Harder

Well, thank you for continuing to blow up my inbox over this holiday season. It’s been greatly appreciated. You did manage to provide me with another triathlon movie to watch. Like a typical millennial I had to find it by other means since it wasn’t on “my” Netflix.

Before I actually talk about this movie…let’s talk about a different movie, The Predator. These two dudes watched the Rocky movies (which Stallone settled out of court for ripping off Chuck Wepner’s life story) and thought “Man, it’d be pretty easy to write a movie script”. What they came up with was this creature fighting Arnold in the Jungle. Allegedly the script was written in less than two days. Arnold saw it and basically said, “Why the hell is there one commando in the jungle fighting an alien? Write it in with a team of commandos.” So these two dudes added a team and on the fourth day we had the Predator.

So back to this movie, Tri. If you don’t count the opening credits…it took less than two minutes for the cancer patient of the main character to suggest “you need to get out of the darkness of this room…how about a triathlon?” Lady, 30 seconds ago you were getting an ultra-fun ultrasound.

I’ll save you the time, this movie was better than Run to Me. It’s basically a walk-through of the entry into triathlons, but it only glosses over things. It rarely mentions the astronomical cost of the sport except when her husband says, “Hey…are we going to be able to return all this when you quit this too?” She did go all out on equipment…I don’t know anyone (except those with disposable income) to have carbon wheels for their first race. There was a million dollar movie budget; I’d spend it on fun toys too. Also, a new Cevelo P5 does not cost 20 grand. This guy at the race is talking to her husband saying, “There’s this bike, Cevelo, they put the shifter cables inside the frame.” It reminds me of an episode of That 70’s Show where (while stoned) Hyde keeps saying “So there’s this car that runs on water, man.” I think her dad died too in the movie. I was in and out. Her husband broke it to her after the tri and then there was a wake type moment where I was waiting for Will Ferrell to yell “You’re my boy Bleu!” This movie was probably half an hour too long because I thought it was over after 75 minutes…nope, it kept on going. Also, this movie’s tagline: “When surviving cancer isn’t enough.” Sure, I would buy that if the main character of the movie actually HAD cancer and wasn’t an ultrasound technician.

Let’s do an exercise in plot writing. Remember how The Predator was pretty much written under 3 days? Here’s a sellable movie plot in less than 10 minutes:

First of all, if I’m going to write a triathlon story – it’s going to be about redemption. It’s just one of those things people can get behind even if they know very little about a sport. Your tagline: “Every athlete dreams of a second chance.”

So we have a redemption story. Let’s say it takes place at an Ironman, maybe even Kona. We could say it was a pro or an amateur elite. If it’s the latter you can interject scenes about how the have to suffer through work like the majority of us do. To have a redemption you need failure. You can’t truly appreciate success until you’ve had a catastrophic failure. In this case, it’ll be a horrific bike crash while they were in the lead or up near the front. Maybe there’s a broken bone? Maybe he got clipped by a car on the course? They have to have that moment where they helplessly look up from the ground and have to watch the race pass them by while writhing in agony.

Now the triathlete must travel down the road of recovery while on the path of redemption. So here’s where you can show legit footage of an triathlete on their grind. Hell, nearly one-third of Rocky IV was flashbacks, musicals and training montages and people still love this movie. I guess Stallone said, “Fuck it,” because it was the first movie he didn’t rip off Wepner, but unfortunately I just shattered the glass and you’ll never see Rocky IV the same again…sorry guys.

Hey, maybe there’s even a training partner who motivates him to make his comeback. He could be that guy who lives on this guy’s couch and drinks his beer knowing he can’t catch him yet. Everyone could use the extra motivation and it helps the story line. Maybe he’s just there to run beside him in a Predator mask.

You get to spend the last 20-30 minutes of the movie doing what everyone wants to see: the second chance. How do you want this to play out? Conventional wisdom says the typical audience will probably want to see this guy (and it doesn’t even have to be a guy) struggle early on and pull it out on in the end rather than lead wire to wire. Maybe he just podiums? The audience just wants that feel good moment of him running down the chute and grabbing his country’s flag on the way to the line. Time to soak in that glory.

Hey, if some studio exec if going to force you have a love interest, like that nice big shitburger of a movie Concussion I was forced to sit through (watch NFL: League of Denial on Netflix instead – straight facts), either have one that’s already existing, have them meet in rehab, or through triathlon training (e.g. a group run or ride).

By the way, by having this movie be about an elite athlete you’re able to completely dodge the cost of all their triathlon stuff without people questioning it.


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