Picks and Pans Review: Miracle in Lane Two

UPDATED 05/15/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT Originally published 05/15/2000 at 01:00 AM EDT

Disney Channel (Sat., May 13, 7:30 p.m.)

"If just once I could know what it feels like to be the big shot, the guy everyone cheers for, the guy who gets the trophy..." Think the 12-year-old in a wheelchair (Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz) will get his wish in this TV movie? Well, it's on Disney Channel, and there's that "miracle" in the title....

Inspired by a true story, Miracle in Lane Two celebrates the triumph of Justin Yoder, a boy with spina bifida who fulfills his dream of sports heroism by turning to Soap Box Derby racing. The first half contains fantasy scenes that appear to promise a Malcolm-like irreverence (Justin imagines his funeral, where he rises from the coffin to demand a better eulogy), but the film eventually takes the Rocky road from training through setbacks to victory. Miracle is sometimes too melodramatic, particularly as older brother Seth (Patrick Levis) grows jealous of the attention Justin receives. ("I hate you—I wish you were dead!" seems a little strong, even in the heat of sibling conflict.) But Muniz is so engaging, you've got to give him a cheer.

Bottom Line: The star steers it

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