I came into the screening of Peaceful Warrior, director Victor Salva's adaptation of former gymnast/self-help writer Dan Millman's 1980 autobiography Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives (using a screenplay written by Kevin Bernhardt), with mixed feelings. I had seen clips of the movie on "Ebert & Roeper," and they seemed a little boring. When I finally saw the movie, I wasn't bored
but I did have a different negative reaction ultimately.
Dan Millman (Scott Mechlowicz) is a UC Berkeley gymnast who has everything going for him. He doesn't have any money worries, he is good looking, he has talent, he has good grades, and the women flock all around him. He even has a chance at the Olympic qualifiers in men's gymnastics. According to him though, he feels like he won't make it if he doesn't do the triple on the rings. This keeps him up at night with nightmares. One night at three in the morning, while sleeping with Dory (Beatrice Rosen), the ex-girlfriend of fellow gymnast Tommy Warner (Ashton Holmes), Dan has one of those nightmares, so he goes out for a run. While running through the foggy dark, Dan ends up at a well-lit Texaco service station with an old man (Nick Nolte) behind the counter. Dan buys some snacks and milk, and the man sits on a chair in front of the station door. When Dan looks back, he is surprised to see the man on the roof. The next night, he goes back to find the man to ask him how he did it, and the man starts giving Dan several philosophies (but he never gets around to telling Dan how he got up there.) Dan starts calling him Socrates and he thinks that this old service station owner might be the key to finding a way to win the Olympic Gold. The next night, Dan meets Joy (Amy Smart), a woman who brings Socrates his food, and has the same tendency to give out self-help tips herself. Meanwhile, Socrates agrees to train Dan, but not before putting him through a regime that includes cutting out things like junk...
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