Review: 'Tracktown' Starring Alexi Pappas, Rachel Dratch, and Andy Buckley

The new film Tracktown tells the semi-autobiographical story of Plumb (Alexi Pappas) a young woman in training to be an Olympic runner. Not only is Pappas an actual Olympic medalist making a rather impressive acting debut in the film, but she is also a co-writer and director on the project along with partner Jeremy Teicher. In short, Alexi Pappas is great at everything. If you want to feel inferior, check out her IMDB page. But I digress. My own massive inferiority complex aside, Tracktown is an enjoyable coming-of-age sports movie, and an awesome first feature from the absurdly talented Olympian.

Pappas portrays Plumb as an anxious and immensely socially awkward person, whose life is centered around running and nothing else. Think a less mumbly Rocky Balboa, which is a comparison the movie makes a couple of times. Having injured her knee, Plumb is forced to take a day off for once, and rest up for the Olympic tryout run. On her forced vacation day, she manages to finally build up the courage to talk to the checkout guy at her local bakery, and the two hit it off. This would be her first relationship and adult experience outside the world of track and field. As a result, she begins to question if her quiet, isolated, training-centric lifestyle can make her truly happy.

While the plot is a rather straight forward young-adult coming-of-age story, Pappas and Teicher do an excellent job at making the film unique enough to be far more engaging than these types of films typically are. The movie is full out told to us from Plumb’s point of view, meaning that everything in the world is just as quirky and awkward as she is. Tonally, it reminded me a lot of Wes Anderson’s earlier work, particularly Rushmore, where the bizarre worldview of its young protagonist shapes the movie as a whole. As a fan of off-beat storytelling, I really appreciated Tracktown’s style.

Ultimately I was pleasantly surprised by Tracktown. The performances are solid across the board. Rachel Dratch is quietly heartbreaking as Plumb’s troubled mother, and again, Alexi Pappas makes a really solid debut. I’m not sure how much of this has to do with her similarity to the character she’s created, but her performance works nonetheless. The filmmakers do a great job exploring the physical toll the sport takes on its athletes, and never shies away from putting the ugly details on display. In the end, it’s no Creed, but Tracktown is a thoroughly enjoyable, off-beat sports drama.

4 out of 5 Guttenbergs