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Awesome: 43.56%
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8 reviews, 53 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"You will believe Americans can play hockey."
4 stars

"Miracle" deserves credit for making us feel excitement over something whose outcome we already know. "The Miracle on Ice," in which the U.S.A. hockey team beat the seemingly unstoppable Soviet Union in the 1980 Winter Olympics, is considered one of the greatest moments in sports history. We've heard the story, we've seen the clips.

Yet here we are, watching "Miracle," which tells the story of the team and ends with a vivid recreation of the game itself, and sure enough, it's a heart-swelling, barn-burner of a finale. Tears flow and spirits are raised -- even though we knew it was going to happen, and even though the 90 minutes of film before it are less than spectacular. Such is the power of patriotism, under-dog heroics and a movie that knows when to cue the inspiring music.

Directed by Gavin O'Connor ("Tumbleweeds") and written by Eric Guggenheim, the film begins with a montage of 1970s news events, most of them unpleasant (Watergate, gas shortage, disco, etc.), laying the groundwork for the notion that the 1980 hockey team was exactly the morale booster that a forlorn America needed. (See also "Seabiscuit.")

Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), a university hockey coach in Minnesota with outrageous '70s hair and outrageouser '70s plaid pants, is chosen by the American Hockey Association to head up the 1980 Olympics squad. Like most movie coaches, he works his players relentlessly, has unorthodox methods, makes no wrong decisions, and neglects his family. (His wife is played by Patricia Clarkson, who is excellent, though her role, by definition, is small.)

The players are among the best college athletes available, with the usual assortment of problems. Minnesota's O'Callahan (Michael Mantenuto) has an old grudge against Boston's McClanahan (Nathan West). Goalie Jim Craig's (Eddie Cahill) mother just died. Some of the others have trouble getting their egos in check and adjusting to the idea of playing for the team, not for themselves. All of them murmur at Herb's techniques and look to assistant coach Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich) as an approachable emissary between them and the coach.

So it's standard sports-flick fare for a while, not great, but not bad, perfectly watchable but not outstanding. The under-appreciated Kurt Russell is fantastic as Herb, conveying equal parts grit, determination and fatherly concern, often just with his eyes. The actors around him are solid, if not amazing.

Then the last act arrives, and all is forgiven. When the big game is played -- condensed, of course, to fit into 30 movie minutes instead of 2 1/2 hours of real time -- it is done without speeches or contrived moments; those are taken care of back in the locker room, before the face-off. The spectacle is the game itself, thrillingly re-created by O'Connor, his cinematographer Dan Stoloff and editor John Gilroy. Some of ABC's Al Michaels' actual play-by-play is used for extra authenticity.

The film could be faulted for boiling all of the world's politics into one game -- but I think that's what the Olympics actually DO, and that hockey game in 1980 did it in particular. This is ultimately a pretty stellar re-visiting of an amazing moment in history.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=8662&reviewer=247
originally posted: 11/24/06 17:46:43
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User Comments

9/11/15 Anne Well done. You are with the team and coach all the way! 4 stars
10/07/09 Anita totally surprised by Kurt Russel's performance - I had to remind myself it was him. 5 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
12/01/06 shagtex just keep yelling USA over and over and stay home 1 stars
11/30/06 SabresFanatic Think David vs Goliath only with the brillant Herb Brooks coaching David to victory! Great 5 stars
11/09/06 Anonymous I think this movie was the best. My mum and dad are like fanatics of this...me too, now :] 5 stars
10/03/05 Angeli Grace One of the unforgettable achievements in the USA sports history. I love it! 5 stars
8/12/05 ES Hockey? I thought this thing was about America dominating the world 2 stars
2/10/05 Jeff Anderson Along with SLAP SHOT, this IS the greatest hockey film of ALL TIME in spirit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/06/05 Poopy McPoop Crap I just wanted to be the only one who rated this movie bad...i really liked it tho 1 stars
12/22/04 Landshark The best medicine for wounds of the long-suffering hockey fan 5 stars
11/18/04 Zeus Greatest moment in sports history. Got to love it 5 stars
10/29/04 Lee ausome 5 stars
6/13/04 Spiderfan50 Dream On! It'll be hard to find a better hocky movie! 5 stars
5/31/04 Ryan Absolutely incredible, best hockey movie I've ever seen. Any fan of the sport needs to see 5 stars
5/31/04 maggie saw it three times and bought the dvd which is great 5 stars
5/30/04 prongs inspirational movie 5 stars
5/30/04 Frazier A patriotic sports movie that gives us national pride 5 stars
5/27/04 Matt Great movie for Hockey fans!!! 5 stars
5/18/04 ryan ransom i loved it i got some while watching it!!!!!!!!1 5 stars
4/16/04 Robyn Jamil-Walid Intense;watchable;a little too self-indulgent at times;subplot with wife mostly annoying. 4 stars
3/30/04 Alex This movie is very inspiring. This is a great movie for the whole family. 4 stars
3/29/04 Mike V It was a Disney movie before it was a Disney movie. 5 stars
3/16/04 Chris I like the movie alot but it played it safe a little to much. Still a good see. 4 stars
3/15/04 Mike Sierchio I knew the story intimately and still found myself on the edge of my seat. 5 stars
3/14/04 E-Rock A well done movie. Game sequences are nicely edited, and the story is well-adapted. 4 stars
3/13/04 Jillian Truly something inspirational, shows us how it is a team comes together when its needed 5 stars
3/09/04 Bob Gifford Overachieves typical expectations 5 stars
3/07/04 Edler A very solid, well made, well acted, entertaining, and inspiring movie. 4 stars
3/03/04 m.gallegos Great! I was on the edge of my seat,even though I knew how it would turn out! 5 stars
3/03/04 Sarah I thought it was fantastic, i saw it in the U.S and wasnt sure what 2 expect, but i luvd it 5 stars
3/01/04 Wendranh Slow to build excitement, but worth it. 4 stars
3/01/04 ashley bevis 4 good sex call gary betts on 01303 243289 5 stars
2/21/04 Tom Bonner Great movie! I remember this like it was yesterday and what it for the US. Kurt is perfect! 5 stars
2/20/04 Ross Riley Best Sports Movie Of ALL TIME 5 stars
2/19/04 Koitus Could have used more footage of exhibition loss (7-3); or other Olympic games. 3 stars
2/15/04 Edler Oh yeah! A great sports movie with amazing insight into the dreary and depressing 1970's. 5 stars
2/15/04 Claire Proce excellent movie... we need more of this kind!! 5 stars
2/15/04 Kev Enjoyable, but it lacked meaning and development 3 stars
2/15/04 Bobbie K Entertaining; but would like to have seen more depth to other characters 4 stars
2/14/04 Joker94 Great Film, if you can't see that, you have no heart! 5 stars
2/14/04 ajay I enjoyed this movie... 4 stars
2/10/04 luke good but beating soviets overshadowed winning the gold 4 stars
2/09/04 Jeremy Sexton Loved every minute of it. I would have stayed for another hour of film! 5 stars
2/09/04 Tyler Bauer Great. Top Notch. Fantastic. 5 stars
2/08/04 Vicious Yanks shouldn't make hockey films. 1 stars
2/08/04 Brad good 5 stars
2/07/04 bullit16 I felt like I was 7 again watching the games on TV. Wonderful! 5 stars
2/07/04 david a may generall a good film; uplifting and will get your tear quotient for the week met. 4 stars
2/07/04 Glen Hull Very entertaining 4 stars
2/03/04 Carly O'Conner Loved It 4 stars
2/03/04 Nicole Great movie. Whatever I was expecting, it was better. 4 stars
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  06-Feb-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 18-May-2004



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