About three months ago, they started showing previews of the movie, Miracle. Now, I'm not a real hockey fan nor am I one usually to get caught up in the whole hoopla-thing related to sports.
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Still, there was some sort of emotional energy released in that trailer that made me want to see this movie...and see it as soon as it came out.
The story is based on the real-life experience of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team. Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), a player turned coach, is given the opportunity to coach a team that no one thinks will go anywhere. The Russian team has won the past four Olympic gold medals and creamed the NHL all-star teams. The best anyone could hope for is that the U.S. Olympic team doesn't embarrass themselves.
From day one, Brooks doesn't cooperate with the Olympic advisory team. This includes his selection of team members - I'm not lookin' for the best players. I'm lookin' for the right ones - and his training tactics which others (namely his assistant coach, Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich)) think are too much.
His players don't know what to make of him. He's emotionally distant and he doesn't approach the game of hockey like they're used to. That's because Brooks sets out to make them a team and as the old saying goes - there is no I in team. He methodically breaks down their individual egos until one day, they gel together as a family. No more Boston-Minnesota rivalries. Just a bunch of hockey guys together, playing for the United States of America.
What happens is - well - it's history. They went on to defeat every single team, including the Russians, and came out on top as gold medalist.
So why will you want to see this? Even if you know nothing about hockey or the Olympics or anything about the depressing age of the late 70's and 80's, you'll still end up caring tremendously about the collective ensemble in this movie.
Begin digressing from film
One of the reasons I've been so absent around these parts is that I was given an assignment that seemed pretty impossible. In fact, many have failed before me. If you have a job to do where you can control all of the factors (or nearly all of them), it seems likely that the success of the outcome is in the palm of your hands.
When you can only influence/control a small portion of the final product, it's very scary. What to do? I turned to my team. If anyone could get me through this assignment, it would be them. As a group, they're all so unique and they have their individual quirks. None of them would consider themselves superstars. As a team though, they move mountains. Time and time again, they've proven that to me. Prior to this assignment, the pattern of their successes became an everyday occurrence.
When I pulled them together, right before the holidays, and told them the "news", I think that their hearts left their chest like mine had. The stakes were so high. The failures that had occurred before we got there were innumerable. I couldn't hide my fear. They didn't hide theirs. The first few weeks were rocky. Many people did not believe that we could make a difference. Many people tried to tear our team apart. We even had a significant derailment that could have torn our entire team apart however, it didn't. I look around and see that it's made us even stronger.
What we've accomplished over this small time period is amazing. People now have faith that this assignment may actually succeed. They look at our team and think of us as more than what they thought we were. There's this new level of respect and awe that is present in our everyday interactions with others (now).
I love my team (Tom 1, Tom 2, Corey, Jeff, and Mike) - it's the only reason why I didn't slit my wrists over this assignment.
So I wanted to let you know about that because I think the emotional impact of this movie (for me) was directly related to the circumstances that I'm currently experiencing.
End digressing from film
The real star of this show isn't so much the individual cast as it is the story. Writer Eric Guggenheim and director Gavin O'Connor pulled a 1-2 punch with the movie. Eric wrote the emotion out in words and Gavin stirred emotions out through the cast, music, and national morale of the time period.
I really, really enjoyed how the entire movie was set up in the beginning. Although I was only a youngster in the 70's, seeing the old footage around Nixon, Carter, the gas shortage, the cold war, and the Iran hostages, put me right back to where I needed to be in order to feel what the nation was feeling during this time (and why this particular event pulled so many people together).
Kurt Russell was perfectly cast as coach Herb Brooks. I'm not sure there's ever been a more perfect role for him! Although I'm not familiar with the late Brooks (as much as I am with other coaches who seem to share his style), I can say that based upon my experience with good coaches, Kurt had that attitude and drive down to a tee. After five minutes, I forgot about his days as Elvis or being Mrs. Goldie Hawn.
The men who played the twenty members of the Olympic team were all very good in their roles. It was interesting that with the exception of one individual - Eddie Cahill (Rachel's younger love interest on Friends - Tag) - they were mostly no-names to me.
Maybe it's not difficult to play young, college-aged, hormonal boys in the late 70's early 80's...they certainly made it all look easy. I was impressed with the emotional output of Michael Mantenuto (Jack O'Callahan) and Patrick O'Brien Demsey (Mike Cruzione) but really, I think that they had more of an opportunity to stand out from others just based on their characters positions on the hockey team.
I really liked the music - everything from Thunder Island (Gavin O'Connor) to Dream On (Aerosmith). I'm sad to see that there's no soundtrack for this movie :(.
In the end, there were no tears, just lots of tingly goosebumps and a reminder that I have the greatest team in the world.
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