short takes (2)

* Personal Best is boring when it isn't distasteful, and a few on-target observations about contemporary athletics don't lend enough interest to make it worth a look at this story about two young athletes who establish a lesbian relationship. But after some obligatory ogling, the film largely forgets about this and follows them on their trek toward the Olympic team. Most of the way, ''Personal Best'' is about sports rather than sex, and here it's as gushy as ''Chariots of Fire.'Though I have much respect for the other screenplays of Robert Towne - ''Chinatown'' and ''The Last Detail'' among them - he seems disappointingly opportunistic in his first film as a director, jumping from sex to cynicism to sentiment, all with a frivolous ease that suggests cold calculation rather than storytelling integrity.

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