American Flyers [1985]

American Flyers could roughly be referred to as a cross between Breaking Away (also written by Steve Tesich) and Brian's Song. Sports physician Marcus (Kevin Costner, sporting a ludicrously big mustache) coaxes his flaky brother David (David Marshall Grant) into doing something with his life and training for a grueling bike race in the Colorado Rockies. The scenario is complicated, though, by family frictions and the fact that the brothers' dad died of a cerebral aneurysm that has been handed down to one of the brothers. The two train rigorously for the big event (part of their routine involves outrunning an angry pit bull every day), then pack the van and head West. Marcus's girlfriend is also the ex-wife of his main rival in the race circuit, providing a bit more intrigue. Veteran action director John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, War Games) excels during the bike-race segments, capturing the breathtaking scenery and the demanding nature of the event nicely. The film is somewhat hobbled, though, by the screenplay and character development; the film plays a bit too much to the sports-movie cliché and the dysfunctional-family story seems like a lengthy prologue to the race. Also, try not to be too bothered by the annoyingly dated soundtrack, and this should be a fairly entertaining, unpretentious little film. --Jerry Renshaw

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