Miracle Review

by Susan Granger (ssg722 AT aol DOT com)
February 9th, 2004

Susan Granger's review of "Miracle" (Walt Disney)
    Based on the true story of coach Herb Brooks who led the USA hockey team to win the Gold in the 1980 Olympic Games at Lake Placid, this is an inspirational saga that transcends its sport, detailing the political and economic atmosphere of the Cold War between America and Russia.
    From the first day of tryouts, Brooks was determined to train the US team his own way. "I'm not looking for the best players," he says. "I'm looking for the right ones." And his idiosyncratic style epitomized his dictum: "I'll be your coach. I won't be your friend." Nevertheless, in a seven-month period, the ragtag recruits became a formidable team, ready to face the Soviet challenge. Director Gavin O'Connor and writer Eric Guggenheim capture the determination and spirit of this endeavor within its context. Devoid of vanity, actor Kurt Russell embodies Brooks - from his cold, calculated obsessiveness with hockey to his loving appreciation of his supportive, long-suffering wife (Patricia Clarkson) - presumably including his wretched hairstyle and outlandish clothes. (If that isn't historically accurate, there should be a lawsuit!) The unruly underdog team is primarily comprised of college hockey players-turned-actors, mostly from Minnesota and Boston, matching the composition and physical characteristics of the real-life squad. And there's sportscaster Al Michaels intoning the titular question: "Do you believe in miracles?"
    "Miracle" is dedicated to Herb Brooks, who served as consultant and died during the filming. "He never saw it. He lived it." On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Miracle" scores an up-beat, action-packed, exciting 8. Whether you're an avid hockey fan or ignorant, like me, about crossing the blue line, face-offs and slapshots, it's a winner.

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