Shawn Ashmore in Terry (2005)

A Marathon of Hope

As a keen sportsman the news that he had cancer in his right leg and the only choice was to amputate it was devastating to Terry Fox (Shawn Ashmore). But like with every knock back he had faced he dealt with it head on with the support of his friends and family. But it was whilst recovering from the operation and the subsequent chemotherapy at the British Columbia Cancer Control Agency that he met many young children who had been diagnosed with cancer some of which did not survive. Moved by what he saw Terry decided he had to do something to make a difference and that was, with the support of his best friend Doug Alward (Ryan McDonald), he would raise money by running a Marathon of Hope starting in April 1980 in St. John's, Newfoundland with the goal to make it across Canada on foot to Victoria, British Columbia.

Firstly I am going to leave that synopsis for "Terry" there because I am sure there will be those who stumble across this movie unaware of who Terry Fox was, what he did and what eventually happened. For those who want to know the information is easy to find out there and trust me his story is both moving and inspirational, even now more than 30 years after the events in this movie took place. But that leads me to something I have been pondering when it comes to this made for TV movie; is the movie itself more than just good or is it Terry Fox's story which makes it great?

Ryan McDonald in Terry (2005)

Now "Terry" is without a doubt a good movie as through a mix of watching Terry running mile after mile, flashback scenes to his diagnosis and in between you do get this full picture. We see the various struggles he encountered from his brother initially treating him differently following the amputation to the pain he felt day after day as he pounded the highways covering one mile at a time no matter what the weather was. All of which helps to paint this picture of a young man who was driven, but not by the goal of completing the marathon of hope but by making a difference be it raising the millions he set out to do or to show those dealing with injury, disability and illness that anything is possible if you want something enough.

But we also see how Terry's marathon affected those close to him from the concerns of his mother as whilst proud and supportive of her son she feared losing him having almost lost him once. And then there is Doug Alward, his best friend who drove the van, cooked meals and basically looked out for Terry and who was someone who knew how hard his best friend was pushing himself. I could go on but quite simply "Terry" really brings to life the events in Terry Fox's life and let me just say that at the end of this movie we see footage of the real Terry Fox during his marathon and the movie does the best it can to recreate several of these scenes as well as bringing to life the way Terry's story gripped a nation.

Now there are a lot of good performances in "Terry"; Ryan McDonald does this beautiful job of playing Doug Alward as this best friend and confidant, bringing out that understanding when it came to being protective of Terry whilst not being too protective to stop him from doing what he set out to do. And Matt Gordon delivers plenty of enthusiasm as PR man Bill Vigars. But it is Shawn Ashmore who makes this movie and you get a feeling that he threw himself into making this movie right, showing the emotion and passion of Terry just as much as the determination which of course lead to some moments of frustration. As I said "Terry" really brings the story of Terry Fox to life and Shawn Ashmore brings the character to life, with the help of CGI to give him a very believable prosthetic leg.

What this all boils down to is that "Terry" is an incredibly inspiring and moving biopic which does an incredible job of bringing the story of who Terry Fox was and what he achieved to life. And so to answer the question I had been pondering; yes "Terry" is a great movie not just because of the inspirational and moving story it tells but for bringing that story to life.