Miracle is a conventional sports movie: the team meets; It finds a crusty old coach looking for that big victory; the team grows tight; the players falter, only to rally and win the big one.
All inspirational sports movies have the same storyline, ending just how everyone knows they will, with a slow motion action shot while the violin music swells.
This is especially the case with true stories, where the film is supposed to take on more meaning because it actually happened.
The story of Miracle takes place in 1980, during the tense Cold War period. Enter Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell), a college hockey coach and former Olympian.
He puts together a team comprised of college players across the Northeast, mostly out of Wisconsin and Michigan. Back then the United States used non-professional athletes for its Olympic team. The other countries, such as the Soviet Union, used professionals who had been together 10 years or more.
The U.S. team trains, practices and goes through a few truly dramatic moments, but the overall tone is muted.
The plot is heavy-handed enough to take away almost any excitement. The pivotal scene, in which Brooks pushes the team members to the edge to unify them, barely comes off as genuine.
Also ingenuine is Russell’s accent. Most of the actors have mastered their’s, but Russell lays his on so unevenly it becomes distracting and takes away from the film.
The movie tries to be about heart, courage and perseverance, but doesn’t delve deep enough into the characters to make their story compelling.
The result is a two dimensional-feel-good movie.
Watching Miracle feels like a way for people to remember tough times have come before and that they were overcome.
A reference to some crisis is shoved in every spare moment of the movie. The storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, the oil shortage, lines at the pumps and the U.S.S.R. invading Afghanistan all make cameo appearances, but none of them relate directly to the plot.
In one of the games, the team is dressed in red, white and blue. The crowd is shouting “U.S.A., U.S.A., U.S.A.,” making it clear that it was a great achievement.
And the reason this story is being made into a movie now is simple: The film is all about selling patriotism.
This is a film which parents can watch and tell their kids, “I remember that commercial,” or “We used to have those refrigerator magnets!” or “Look at Kurt Russell in plaid pants and a gold jacket!”
The lesson being taught is that miracles do happen, especially when the good ole’ U.S.A. is involved.
However, the memory is old and the target audience may not relate enough to make Miracle a success.