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Do I Believe in “Miracle”?

February 15, 2014

miracle

Team USA’s thrilling victory over Russia in hockey at the Olympics today inspired me to—finally—watch Miracle, the much-loved 2004 Disney docudrama about the 1980 gold medal-winning American underdogs. Why hadn’t I seen it before? I’m not much of a hockey fan, and watching the game this morning made me realize why—the sport is too imprecise, and there’s not enough scoring. It’s like soccer on skates.

Under the right circumstances, though, I can enjoy a hockey game. I’ve been to a few in person and found them much more exciting than watching them on TV, where it’s hard to follow the puck, even in HD. And big events like the Olympics or the Stanley Cup Finals can hold my attention. But the main reason why I hadn’t seen Miracle until now is that it runs 135 minutes. That’s almost as long as a real hockey game!

miracle-herb-brooks-kurt-russellSo I was pleasantly surprised that Miracle flew by. It’s a quintessential post-Rocky sports movie. Even though I knew how the story was going to end, watching it unfold was still exhilarating. Much of the credit goes to Kurt Russell, who doesn’t dull any of coach Herb Brooks’ blade-sharp edges. His hairstyle resembles a helmet (it also makes him look a little bit like a character from The LEGO Movie) and his fashion sense is almost as offensive as his personality. Yet Russell makes him likable, and the great Noah Emmerich (The Americans) provides strong support as his assistant coach.

The team is aptly played by a bunch of still-unknowns, with the exception of Eddie Cahill (CSI: NY) as goaltender Jim Craig. Director Gavin O’Connor shoots the games with a visceral feel for the action; he gets much better camera angles than on your average static NHL telecast. The script lays on the Carter-era malaise a little too thickly (yes, we get it, America needed a lift), but if you’re not cheering “USA! USA!,” as my hockey-hating son and I were by the end, well, you might just be a Red.

It’s true: I loved a hockey movie. Now that’s a Miracle.

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