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Overall Rating

Awesome: 43.56%
Worth A Look44.55%
Average: 7.92%
Pretty Bad: 0.99%
Total Crap: 2.97%

8 reviews, 53 user ratings

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by Rob Gonsalves

"Anchored by yet another amazing Kurt Russell performance."
4 stars

Here's a happy surprise. 'Miracle,' which looks like a flag-waving Disney sports movie, gives us instead a complex portrait of a man, and Kurt Russell delivers a major performance as that man while barely varying his facial expressions or the rhythm of his gum-chewing (all coaches, it seems, must chew gum).

As Herb Brooks, who coached the United States amateur hockey team to Olympic victory in 1980, Russell adopts the rounded vowels of Minnesota, giving his usually knife-edged speech patterns a loose poetry they've never had before. Nothing else about Herb is loose, though. Hair parted to the side in a helmet-head cut without a strand out of place, Herb yells without seeming aggressive and argues without seeming argumentative. Rigid to the core, he's always right, and knows it.

Herb is positioned as the kind of simple optimist -- if you work and bleed hard enough for it, you can have it -- that America needs in its time of "malaise," as Jimmy Carter famously put it. Uncertain about its position in the world, frazzled by a decade of turmoil and excess, America at the end of the '70s is an underdog. Herb hasn't gotten the memo on that, or on anything else except hockey. (His wife at one point has to wrest his attention away from his roster list so that he can catch a TV report about the hostages in Iran.) Herb doesn't see any reason why a sufficiently scrappy, passionate, and hungry team can't stand skate to skate with the feared Soviet team, which has won every gold medal for over a decade.

This isn't Rocky IV all over again: None of the Soviet players scowls at an American player and sneers "Ve vill break you." In fact, for much of the movie, Herb pays more respect to the Soviet team than he does to the team he's driving so hard. Obsessively watching films of the Soviets on the ice, he knows why they've been champions, and he knows that the only way to beat them is to play like them. The triumphalism at the climax is not jingoistic but a sort of relief that an underdog team from an underdog country held off a great team against the odds.

Herb's training, which borders on sadistic at times, takes up about two-thirds of the movie. He hammers the players like a Zen master, pushing them to their physical limits and beyond. Once they learn precision, they must learn passion. Herb understands that shared anguish can result in a foxhole rapport, the cement of a winning team. Soon enough, players aren't just asking to play hurt; they're demanding it. The players jokingly give Herb a whip for Christmas, in both a tweak at their relentless taskmaster and a tribute. Herb's assistant coach (a solid job by Noah Emmerich, serving as the good cop to Russell's bad cop) sometimes shakes his head at the boss's excesses but never questions them.

"You were born to be hockey players," Herb shouts at his boys at a crucial moment, and he, too, was chosen by the gods of the ice; he'd been a player on the 1960 Olympic team (the last American team to win), but got cut at the last minute. This is Herb's chance to take the gold, and fortunately he has a patient wife (Patricia Clarkson, who does what she can in the Wife role) who won't get after him too much about picking the kids up from ballet or hockey practice when he's got a 4:00 meeting. Herb takes the team right up to the top and right down to the wire, and Kurt Russell maintains a quiet, unshowy intensity. His big moment is played in shadow, at a respectful distance, when emotion finally overwhelms Herb to the point where he can't chew it along with his gum, and he goes off to be alone while the crowd goes crazy.

See 'Miracle' even if you don't give a damn about hockey (I don't): Kurt Russell as this tight, held-in man is the purest, most expressive thing you're going to see at the movies this season.

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originally posted: 01/11/07 09:54:53
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User Comments

9/12/15 Anne Well done. You are with the team and coach all the way! 4 stars
10/08/09 Anita totally surprised by Kurt Russel's performance - I had to remind myself it was him. 5 stars
8/31/08 Shaun Wallner The storyline is well made! 5 stars
12/02/06 shagtex just keep yelling USA over and over and stay home 1 stars
12/01/06 SabresFanatic Think David vs Goliath only with the brillant Herb Brooks coaching David to victory! Great 5 stars
11/10/06 Anonymous I think this movie was the best. My mum and dad are like fanatics of too, now :] 5 stars
10/03/05 Angeli Grace One of the unforgettable achievements in the USA sports history. I love it! 5 stars
8/13/05 ES Hockey? I thought this thing was about America dominating the world 2 stars
2/11/05 Jeff Anderson Along with SLAP SHOT, this IS the greatest hockey film of ALL TIME in spirit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
1/07/05 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
11/19/04 Zeus Greatest moment in sports history. Got to love it 5 stars
10/30/04 Lee ausome 5 stars
6/14/04 Spiderfan50 Dream On! It'll be hard to find a better hocky movie! 5 stars
6/01/04 Ryan Absolutely incredible, best hockey movie I've ever seen. Any fan of the sport needs to see 5 stars
6/01/04 maggie saw it three times and bought the dvd which is great 5 stars
5/31/04 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
5/19/04 ryan ransom i loved it i got some while watching it!!!!!!!!1 5 stars
4/17/04 Robyn Jamil-Walid Intense;watchable;a little too self-indulgent at times;subplot with wife mostly annoying. 4 stars
3/31/04 Alex This movie is very inspiring. This is a great movie for the whole family. 4 stars
3/30/04 Mike V It was a Disney movie before it was a Disney movie. 5 stars
3/17/04 Chris I like the movie alot but it played it safe a little to much. Still a good see. 4 stars
3/16/04 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
3/14/04 Jillian Truly something inspirational, shows us how it is a team comes together when its needed 5 stars
3/10/04 Bob Gifford Overachieves typical expectations 5 stars
3/08/04 Edler A very solid, well made, well acted, entertaining, and inspiring movie. 4 stars
3/04/04 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
3/02/04 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
2/22/04 Tom Bonner Great movie! I remember this like it was yesterday and what it for the US. Kurt is perfect! 5 stars
2/21/04 Ross Riley Best Sports Movie Of ALL TIME 5 stars
2/20/04 Koitus Could have used more footage of exhibition loss (7-3); or other Olympic games. 3 stars
2/16/04 Edler Oh yeah! A great sports movie with amazing insight into the dreary and depressing 1970's. 5 stars
2/16/04 Claire Proce excellent movie... we need more of this kind!! 5 stars
2/16/04 Kev Enjoyable, but it lacked meaning and development 3 stars
2/16/04 Bobbie K Entertaining; but would like to have seen more depth to other characters 4 stars
2/15/04 Joker94 Great Film, if you can't see that, you have no heart! 5 stars
2/15/04 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
2/09/04 Vicious Yanks shouldn't make hockey films. 1 stars
2/09/04 Brad good 5 stars
2/08/04 bullit16 I felt like I was 7 again watching the games on TV. Wonderful! 5 stars
2/08/04 david a may generall a good film; uplifting and will get your tear quotient for the week met. 4 stars
2/08/04 Glen Hull Very entertaining 4 stars
2/04/04 Carly O'Conner Loved It 4 stars
2/04/04 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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