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Review: Athlete, dentist meet cute in charming, sweet 'Olympic Dreams'

Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll connect during the 2018 Winter Games in his resonant comedic romance

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

The engaging "Olympic Dreams" plays like "Lost in Translation" at the Winter Games. 

In this lightly comedic romance, Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll star as a pair of lost souls who connect with each other halfway around the world at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.  

Alexi Pappas and Nick Kroll in "Olympic Dreams."

Real-life Olympian Pappas (she's a long-distance runner) stars as Penelope, a 22-year-old Olympic cross-country skier who finishes outside of medal contention and feels lonely and displaced during her stay in South Korea. 

Kroll (TV's "The League") is Ezra, a dentist volunteering at the games. He's on a weird break from his girlfriend-slash-maybe-fiancé back home in New Jersey, and he connects with Penelope when he sees her eating alone in the Olympic mess hall. 

The two form a bond and begin orbiting each other; they have an obvious chemistry, but Ezra's station in life leaves him hesitant to act on it. 

Pappas and Kroll wrote the script along with director Jeremy Teicher, Pappas' real-life husband. 

They shot in and around the 2018 Winter Games and were afforded special access because of Pappas' background and credentials, giving "Olympic Dreams" a feel all its own.  

Pappas and Kroll improvised much of their dialogue, which adds to the honesty and naturalism of both their characters and the storytelling. 

Together with Teicher, they manage to capture and bottle the feeling of displacement and untethered emotional freedom that comes from being on your own in a strange environment; the fact that he finds that at the Olympics helps frame the hopes and dreams of Olympic athletes in a fresh context. If that's not enough to win it a gold medal, it at least gets "Olympic Dreams" on the podium. 

agraham@detroitnews.com

@grahamorama

'Olympic Dreams'

GRADE: B

Rated PG-13: for some language and sexual references

Running time: 82 minutes