PEACEFUL WARRIOR — ** — Scott Mechlowicz, Nick Nolte, Amy Smart; rated PG-13 (profanity, violence, vulgarity, brief drugs, brief partial nudity).

"Peaceful Warrior" is the kind of metaphysical nonsense that gives New Age a bad name.

This slow-moving version of Dan Millman's supposedly autobiographical novel is filled with the expected mumbo-jumbo about clearing your mind and uncluttering various aspects of your life.

And while those messages might be appreciated, there's something unpleasantly strident about the way this film presents them. You quickly grow to resent "Warrior's" preachiness.

Scott Mechlowicz ("EuroTrip") plays Millman in this fictionalized account, which depicts him as a headstrong but promising college gymnast. But he meets a seemingly sage auto mechanic (Nick Nolte) who changes his entire way of thinking.

This would-be Mr. Miyagi, whom Dan has nicknamed "Socrates," tries to show him a different way of achieving his goals. Unfortunately, while Dan uses most of good old "Soc's" methods, he doesn't appear to have learned anything to help him lose his cocky attitude and become less selfish.

Director Victor Salva may have made a slight career comeback with his love-them-or-hate-them "Jeepers Creepers" movies, but this one more closely resembles his insipid fantasy "Powder" (1995).

And Mechlowicz gives a wooden performance that suggests what might happen if Freddie Prinze Jr. tried to imitate Keanu Reeves.

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Nolte is considerably livelier in his performance, and he deserves credit for keeping a straight face while delivering some of the nonsense his character has to spout. Amy Smart shows up, apparently just because the film needs a romantic interest.

"Peaceful Warrior" is rated PG-13 for scattered profanity and some crude sexual talk (including slang), violence (including a traffic accident), some brief drug content (use of prescription painkillers), and brief partial male nudity. Running time: 120 minutes.


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