Mom at the Movies- Tyson's Run


Juleen Walker

Mom at the Movies

Happy Theater Thursday

Tyson's Run premiered Friday, Mar 11, 2022. This film is written and directed by Kim Bass, who you may recognize from his more popular projects like Sister Sister, In Living Color and Thin Line between Love and Hate, Kenan and Kel. Because the more successful projects in his repertoire are predominantly comedy. I was genuinely curious about how he would tell this autism story starring Major Dodson as Tyson Hollerman, Amy Smart as Eleanor Hollerman, Rory Cochran as Bobby Hollerman, and Barkhad Abdi as Aklilu. Bass wrote a beautiful story with so much potential. Unfortunately, how a story is told is just as important as the story itself.

This film is an inspiring story of Tyson Hollerman, an autistic teen attending high school for the first time after being homeschooled and his journey to win his city's marathon. His mother, Eleanor Hollerman, is a stay-at-home mom who spends much of her day educating and caring for him. His father, Bobby Hollerman, is a local hero and a high school football coach who knows how to connect and motivate his football team but cannot communicate with his son the same way.

The movie opens with a shot of the house and a title saying, "based on a real boy." There is a hard cut to Tyson and his mother doing Math homework that neither understands. When Tyson's father comes home from work, it is clear that there is awkwardness between him and Tyson. Tyson appears to ignore him until his mother reminds him to speak to his father. Tyson then announces at the dinner table that he would like to attend school "to learn Algebra. "His parents argue about it later that night. Tyson's mother accuses Tyson's father of being ashamed of their autistic son. The next day Tyson is shown attending school. We are privy to all his obstacles of being a neurodivergent teen in a school where his fellow students are predominantly neurotypical. After his first day of school, Tyson meets Aklilu, a marathon runner who is running at his school’s track. Tyson runs next to Aklilu and decides that he will run in their city's marathon.

The movie is not available at my favorite Regal cinemas, five minutes from my children's school. I struggled between wanting to review this movie and picking a movie I was less interested in, in favor of getting the children before the daycare begins. I decided to let them go to daycare and take some time for myself. I drove 30 minutes to Regal in La Habra, California. I had never been to this theater. It was straightforward to find, and there was plenty of parking. As I walked through the door, Their door greeter greeted me with a smile. They charged me $1.50 extra because they are not on my basic Regal unlimited plan list of theaters. I was okay with that. I ordered my popcorn and icee and went in.

The first thing I noticed about this film's cinematography was the many many montages punctuated by poorly placed hard cuts that take you out of the movie. The script had glaring inaccuracies about mothers managing their child with ASD. If Bass wants to tell autistic stories, he needs to do a better job researching ASD and the process. There were no ABA therapy appointments nor did Tyson have an IEP assessment before attending high school. Even the Hollerman house was not equipped to handle a teen that runs to drown out overwhelming stimuli. I feel the most egregious inaccuracy was when the doctor offered a prenatal exam to test Eleanor's unborn child for autism. That is not how the diagnosis process works, and no prenatal test has been proven to detect autism accurately.

Major Dodson is a bright shining star. His line delivery reminded me of my autistic child. I frequently say that autism spectrum disorder does not look the same for everyone, so when I say Dodson plays the role so well I am referring to one depiction of one autistic child (it is not a one size fits all representation.) I was particularly impressed with his portrayal of echolalia. His representation of a high-functioning autistic teen is well done. Excellent depictions of the characters could have saved the script. However, the rest of the cast did not deliver. Major Dodson carried this film on his back and ran with it (couldn't help myself)

My Rating: 5 running shoes out of 10

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