Picks and Pans Review: Champions

UPDATED 05/14/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/14/1984 at 01:00 AM EDT

Bob Champion's life story (PEOPLE, April 16) seems tailor-made for a movie. In 1979, at the peak of his career as a jockey in England, he found out he had testicular cancer. Given only eight months to live, he underwent chemotherapy and, miraculously, recovered. Even more miraculous was what happened in 1981—Champion won the Grand National, Britain's steeplechase spectacular, aboard Aldaniti, a horse that had been destined to be destroyed after a serious leg injury. Despite the extraordinary drama of Champion's life, however, this movie just plods along. John (The Elephant Man) Hurt portrays Champion, but like the rest of the film he just seems tired. Jan Francis plays the woman who comes to love Champion despite his physical problems, but the romantic subplot seems pasted on to the rest of the action. (Aldaniti plays himself convincingly.) The Grand National is stirring, but it is the only part that isn't conveyed in a kind of cinematic monotone.(PG)

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