Miracle (2004)


5 Seconds Left in the Game.  Do You Believe in Miracles?

It took so long to finally receive today’s movie that I had almost forgotten that Yimmy requested it.  As best I can remember, this is only the second movie that Yimmy has requested, yet a pattern is already developing.  You want to know what kind of movies my friend Yimmy likes?  The ONLY movies Yimmy likes are inspirational movies about the Olympics.  That’s it.  Today’s inspirational Olympic movie (or as we should start referring to them, Yimovie) is a pretty popular and respected movie based around an extremely popular and inspirational moment in American sports history.  As an über-nerd, I knew next to nothing about the movie or the event.  But now you can view this movie through the eyes of a person who doesn’t know sports, doesn’t know hockey, and did not even know one of the most famous sports moments in history.  What will such a nerd think of the movie Miracle, written by Eric Guggenheim, directed by Gavin O’Connor, and starring Kurt Russell, Noah Emmerich, Kenneth Welsh, Eddie Cahill, Patrick O’Brien Demsey, Michael Mantenuto, Nathan West, Kenneth Mitchel, Patricia Clarkson, Sean McCann, Eric Peter-Kaiser, Bobby Hanson, Joseph Cure, and Billy Schneider?

Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) interviews with the United States Olympic Committee for the opportunity to coach the 1980 Olympic Men’s hockey team, and gets the job with his philosophy about how to beat the unbeatable Soviet team.  With his assistant coach Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich), he sets about picking a team not comprised of the best players he can find, but the team he thinks will be able to work as a family.  He picks 26 people with the intention of cutting six by the time they get to the Olympics.  The work begins immediately.  Brooks attempts to find out how to kill a group of 26 with just physical labor on the ice, but at least 20 of them survive by the time they head to the Olympics.  Even with all their hard work and camaraderie, they’ll still need some sort of miracle just to beat the Soviet team, and I’m sure the idea of taking home the gold is completely out of the question.

One of the best compliments that I could probably give a sports movie is that it actually made me interested in watching whatever sport it was based on.  It’s a rarity to be certain, but I would give this movie the ability to say that it accomplished that goal.  It was every bit of the feel good movie that it attempted to be, but I’d say that I’d give next to no credit to the story of the movie.  How could you?  From what I can tell, the movie might as well have been a documentary for the bulk of the movie.  There was some behind the scenes stuff that I’m sure they had to make up, but watching the making of featurettes on the DVD showed me that the hockey – arguably the reason anyone went to see this movie – was choreographed to be identical to what actually happened.  And it certainly wasn’t going to surprise anybody.  I’m sure the greater majority of people know what happened with the Miracle on Ice.  I technically didn’t, but I could’ve guessed.  If someone had asked me before this movie, I would’ve said that it was probably a sports thing, so I’m guessing hockey, and if it’s a miracle then I assume the other team was better, but we won anyway.  It’d be similar to what would happen if people asked me what happened with “The Catch.”  I’d guess it was football because I vaguely remember them talking about it in an episode of Scrubs, and I’m guessing some person caught the ball in some spectacular way, probably in the last seconds of the game and it probably caused them to win.  See?  All you need to figure these things out is some common sense.  The Immaculate Reception is just as obvious.  Someone probably caught the ball in a spectacular way and was rewarded by getting impregnated with the son of God by an angel.  The story was good for what it was.  It’d be more of a compliment to the direction of the movie that this movie worked because he’d be the one responsible for capturing the moments and recreating them, and that’s where the movie gets most of its steam.  It’s able to still make the movie interesting and suspenseful even though most people know where it’s going.  I would say real life boned them on some parts of the movie though.  You would expect the ending to be a little more spectacular, but that’s not how it worked out in real life.  In real life, the US team took the lead early in the third period (and yes, I had to look up that they were called “periods” in hockey) and then just held that lead until the time ran out, giving them the win.  A movie like this would typically end in the way the first period ended, with the guy getting the final point of the period with one second remaining on the clock.  The movie also makes great use of the montage, pulling those out about three times during the movie to show the team training, but it never really became tedious.

The performances were difficult for me.  Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson did great jobs, but the hockey players didn’t really do much of anything other than playing hockey.  Kurt Russell had a difficult performance to pull off, but it seemed that he really became the character and did him justice.  He had moments where you felt for him, usually relating to his family situation.  There were other times where you just thought he was an asshole, like when he was having the team sprint up and down the ice after a game until they literally couldn’t stand anymore.  As for the team, I didn’t really care about any of them individually, but that might have been what they were going for since it seemed as if the coach wanted them to be a team rather than individuals.  But most of the team didn’t have much for personalities.  The only ones that had any kind of story were the goaltender who was holding back because his mom had died and the two guys on the team who hated each other in the beginning.  Everyone else was basically the same person as far as I knew.  They also didn’t seem that bright as it took the whole team half of the movie to realize that Brooks wanted them to say that they played for the United States of America instead of their individual colleges when they introduced themselves.  I figured out what the guy wanted the first time he asked.  But they’re hockey players, so I assume they’ve taken a pretty good amount of head trauma.

Yimmy has not let me down yet.  Both of his movies took things that he knows I don’t care about, but I still end up liking them because they’re inspirational movies with feel good themes.  Miracle takes an inspirational underdog story and recreates it, so I give little credit to the story and more credit to the direction that recreates those moments very well.  Those and Kurt Russell’s performance.  It’s a movie worth watching, even for people who aren’t fans of hockey because it can hold your interest even without the benefit of caring about the subject matter.  You can’t stream the movie, but you can get the disk from Netflix.  Miracle gets “This is your time.  Now get out there and take it” out of “To me it looks like two monkeys trying to hump a football.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

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