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Review: ‘Olympic Dreams’ with Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll is too mopey for medal consideration

Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll in the movie “Olympic Dreams.”
Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll in the movie “Olympic Dreams.”
(IFC Films)

“Olympic Dreams” is a wispy, quasi-romantic dramedy whose affecting moments are eclipsed by its overly random, sometimes awkwardly played and constructed narrative. Think “Lost in Translation” goes to the Olympics, but of less consequence.

Jeremy Teicher directed, shot and ran sound for this shoestring production, filmed during the 2018 Olympics Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. His unprecedented access to the event’s Olympic Village provides a unique, colorful backdrop to this tale of two lonely souls — cross-country skiing competitor Penelope (2016 Olympic runner and filmmaker Alexi Pappas) and volunteer dentist Ezra (Nick Kroll) — whose paths crisscross during several wintry days.

Teicher, Pappas and Kroll share writing credit on this largely improvised film that follows the romantic push-pull between the anxious Penelope, 22, who finishes her event early and disappointedly, and 37-year-old Ezra, currently “on a break” from his fiancée. They end up spending lots of montage-centric time on the Olympic grounds and in the city, revealing bits and pieces of themselves en route.

Pappas, with her deeply expressive face, and an earnestly vulnerable Kroll are engaging at times. But they too often remain stuck in a kind of moony-morose vibe that can make for a sluggish ride. Best moment: a sweet kiss between the needy Penelope and an obliging, gay fellow Olympian (Gus Kenworthy).

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'Olympic Dreams'
Rated: PG-13, for some language and sexual references.

Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes.

Playing: Starts Feb. 14, Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa Monica; also on VOD


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