Miracle

Cast:
Kurt Russell as Herb Brooks
Eddie Cahill as Jim Craig
Michael Mantenuto as Jack O’Callahan
Patrick O’Brien Demsey as Mike Eruzione
Kenneth Mitchell as Ralph Cox
Nathan West as Rob McClanahan
Noah Emmerich as Craig Patrick
Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Brooks
Nate Miller as John Harrington
Eric Peter-Kaiser as Mark ‘Magic’ Johnson
Bobby Hanson as Dave Silk
Samuel Skoryna as Steve Janaszyk
Pete Duffy as Robert Suter
Joe Cure as Mike Ramsey
Stephen Kovalcik as Dave Christian

Summary:
Disney’s take on one of the greatest sports moments in US history is a feel-good, bittersweet tale that rekindles memories of that winter’s day in Lake Placid, New York.

Story:
Miracle is the story of the team that transcended its sport and united a nation with a new feeling of hope. Based on the exciting true story of one of the greatest sports moments, the film captures a time and place where differences could be settled by games and a cold war could be put on ice. In 1980, the United States Ice Hockey team’s coach, Herb Brooks, took a squad of college kids up against the legendary juggernaut from the Soviet Union at the Olympic Games. Despite the long odds, Team USA carried the pride of a nation yearning for a distraction from world events. With the world watching, the team rose to the occasion, prompting broadcaster Al Michaels’ now-famous question to the millions viewing at home: “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!”

Miracle is rated PG for language and some rough sports action.

What Worked:
The retelling of the story of the US hockey team’s Cold War triumph over the Soviets is very straightforward, which is a good thing. There are times in Miracle when it almost seems like a documentary. There is a fair amount of social commentary of the times laid out in montages of actual news footage from the late 1970s. The addition of these give a good snapshot of the climate of the country going into the Lake Placid games. The performance by Kurt Russell is top notch as feisty head coach Brooks. He is head strong, or stubborn, depending on the moment – but he knows just how to push the buttons of his team and others to achieve the desired result. Also good are the actors that make up the team. There is not a star among them, but you get the sense that these guys grow together nicely as the film runs its course.

What Didn’t Work:
The film is long at about 2 hours and 20 minutes (at least that is how long the work print was) and that may discourage some. Also, the story isn’t so much about the Lake Placid games, but more about what it took to get there. The game with the Soviets is well documented, but the actual Gold Medal game versus Finland is epilogue here. Of course, there is no surprise waiting for you at the end of Miracle. Like Titanic, you knew going in that the ship sinks. Well, Team USA wins!

Sadly, the real life Herb Brooks won’t get to see Miracle. He was killed in an auto accident in August 2003, just as the film wrapped. I think he would have been pleased with the end product.

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