The other evening on Prime I re-found a favorite movie, Saint Ralph. I was thrilled. I must have seen that film at least ten to 12 times before. It’s a coming of age, Canadian film about a ninth-grade boy at a Catholic school. It’s funny and has characters you care about. Ralph Walker is a target of private school bullies, but is strong enough to ignore them.
Synopsis: Ralph lost in father in the war and then his grandparents, now his mother lies in a coma in the hospital and is not expected to survive. Ralph has the hots for a young lady, who is looking at becoming a nun and volunteers at the hospital. With all the religious teaching in the church and the school, Ralph gets it into his head that only a miracle will save his mother and so he prepares to perform a miracle by winning the Boston Marathon after Father George Hibbert tells him, “It would be a miracle if you won the Boston Marathon.”
Saint Ralph trailer – imdb.com/video/vi1619329305
Here is a partial review of the feature film from 2004:
“Saint Ralph, an apparent inspirational puff piece with a quirky sense of humor that translates into wicked absurdity, has been the beneficiary of a long series of happy accidents. From having good luck with a teenage actor (relative newcomer Adam Butcher) in a lead role to having a prior connection to another star (noted Canadian actor Gordon Pinsent, who had done a public reading of one of the Canadian-born Michael McGowan’s scripts years before) to being able to fake vintage running shoes by dyeing and modifying bowling shoes, the film seemed to lead an awkwardly charmed life, in keeping with its story about a boy in search of a miracle.”
The pool scene is a great example of who and what Ralph is all about. He’s a child who won’t and can’t wait to grow up. In an incident that would embarrass most people he just accepts it and goes on with his life.
The wonderful music that accompanies the film is worth the price of admission . . . no matter what you pay. From Will Kimbrough to Leonard Cohen the tone, the timing, and the feeling intertwine with the images and the possibilities of a miracle.
Will Kimbrough – Goodnight Moon
Leonard Cohen performs “Hallelujah”
The actors in “Saint Ralph” from younger to older all blend nicely. Adam Butcher, who plays the 9th grade Catholic student, was perfect. He captured the personality of Ralph and made him real. I mentioned Adam about three years ago in an article for The Suburban Times, and he wrote me a nice thank you note. Butcher starred in “The Dog Pound” a few years later. He has appeared in both films and TV series since “Saint Ralph” and also was fx animator in the animated film “The Breadwinner.”
Father Fitzpatrick is played by a frequent guest on The Red Green Show, Gordon Pinsent. “In addition to acting, he directs and produces, and has written a number of novels and screenplays, as well as plays for the stage, including ‘Corner Green’ for the Newfoundland amateur drama festival.” Father Fitzpatrick controls the happenings at church and school. Nothing gets past him, or so he thinks. One of my favorites lines is when he has Ralph in his office and accuses ninth grader Ralph of smoking on school property. Ralph answers, “Technically, yes.”
Claire Collins, Ralph’s love interest is played by Tamara Hope. Hope has appeared in a number of commercials, films and TV productions and has had a recurring role in the Murdoch Mysteries. She is also an accomplished musician.
Campbell Scott who plays Father George Hibbert, has been in numerous films and TV productions as an actor and director in both the U.S. and Canada. As Father George Hibbert, he plays a disillusioned priest who has spent his adulthood holding himself back. Father Hibbert is the kind of teacher we rarely see and always wish we had.
Father George Hibbert: (as Ralph shows up for his first Cross Country workout) “We run in Cross Country, Ralph… Run.”
Ralph Walker: “How in Christ did I ever end up here?”
Father George Hibbert: “I ask myself that every day.”
Chester Jones is played by Michael Kanevsky. His trademark is his fiery red hair. Chester in an enabler and signs Ralph’s excuses in the name of Ralph’s grandparents who have passed away.
Ralph Walker: “I can’t believe I actually told them that I abused myself twenty-two times in the last week.”
Chester Jones: “Twenty-two times? And I thought I was going to hell.”
Father George Hibbert: “The day I entered the seminary was the last day I ever ran.”
Ralph Walker: “Why?”
Father George Hibbert: “They told me Basilians don’t run. (Pause) I should have joined the Jesuits.”
Ralph may lack many traits, but dedication to an idea and a dream isn’t one of them.
“The sexuality content is handled well and honestly with none of that gruesome teenage guffawing that litters other movies of this ilk. Because of this content it would not be suitable for children which is a shame, but it is not gratuitous and is an intrinsic part of the Catholic sin quotient of the era. 8 out of 10. A marvelous, thoughtful film.”
“Air Canada was showing this a few months ago. With nothing better to do I thought I’d give it a try. It’s nice to start watching a movie you have never heard of. And not having anyone else’s viewpoint to prejudice you. At least when it is this good. The initial disappointment of there being no well-known movies on offer soon evaporated. After an uncertain start the wholly believable characters win you over. A bit corny at times for sure, but funny, and well-acted. And ultimately one of the most moving films I have seen in a while (ok discounting Finding Neverland). An excellent coming of age tale, which I enjoyed retelling to my kids.”
“I’m not a catholic, certainly not a saint, and can hardly even call myself a jogger, but I found this movie wonderfully inspiring, witty and enjoyable from start to finish. I was thoroughly impressed with Adam Butcher’s performance; he portrayed young Ralph’s emotions (and the struggles of youth) so genuinely that he brought tears to my eyes during several scenes.”
By the end of the film, Ralph has proven himself a winner and is accepted as a hero. Isn’t that what we all long for?
To read more about the film, visit – imdb.com/title/tt0384488/