PCR past banners
Now in our fifth calendar year!
PCR # 203  (Vol. 5, No. 7)  This edition is for the week of February 9--15, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

Book Review: The Houses of Key West
 by William Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
VH1's Bands Re-United, Part 3: Kajagoogoo
 by Andy Lalino
30 Bands That Made The '80s NOT Suck
 by Terence Nuzum
Vampire The Masquerade
 by Nick King
Hurry Back!...And The Grammy Goes To....Award Watch....Damn It! No Ewok Song....Happy Anniversary....Meet The Beatles, Part 4
 by Mike Smith
Archives of Nolan's Pop Culture Review
Archives 2004
Archives 2003
Archives 2002
Archives 2001
Archives 2000
Email PCR
Walt Disney Pictures     
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson and Noah Emmerich
Directed by: Gavin O Connor
Rated: PG
Running Time: 2 hours 15 mins

"I'm your coach, not your friend." With those words, coach Herb Brooks (Russell), lets his young hockey squad know what to expect during the seven months they spend putting together the 1980 US Olympic team. And they soon learn that the coach means every word.

Like earlier true sport story films like "Remember the Titans" and "The Rookie," "Miracle" hits all of the right notes without turning maudlin. And, like the previous films who relied so much on their lead actor (Denzel Washington and Dennis Quaid, respectively), this film runs on the believable performance of Kurt Russell. Everyone knows that the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team beat the team from the U.S.S.R. at the games held in Lake Placid, New York. In the real world, the Russians had just invaded Afghanistan, our hostages were being held in Iran and President Carter was aging daily as he tried to run the country. But it's the story behind the story that captivates. A member of the 1960 Olympic hockey squad, Brooks was cut from the team a week before the games. It was the last time the US won Olympic gold in hockey, as the games were dominated for the next 20 years by the Soviets. A successful college coach, Brooks is selected to coach the 1980 team. Throwing out all conventional wisdom, he doesn't necessarily choose the most talented players. He chooses the ones he feels can be molded into ONE team. A constant test is asking prospective team members who they play for. Each one answers with the name of his college. It's only when one announces that he plays for THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA that everything begins to come together. What follows is a record of one of the most important moments in sports history.

Much credit must go to director O' Connor, who manages to show the grace and speed of hockey with his fluid camera work. If you've ever watched the game on television, it can look pretty boring. Even in person, unless you are sitting by the ice, the game draws on until you're begging for a fight to start. Here, the skates flash and the pucks fly. The cast is well rounded out, with each player allowed to have his own personality and, even more so, allowed to show it Much emphasis is put on team captain Mike Eruzione and goal tender Jim Craig, as they were the two main players showcased during the games. Russell, who, like Jeff Bridges, is so good in everything, inhabits Brooks. As his wife, recent Oscar nominee Patricia Clarkson does well in what could have been a one dimensional, supportive wife role. And Noah Emmerich is fine as the assistant coach, Craig Patrick.. As a buffer between Brooks and the team, Patrick is often the voice of reason the head coach needs.

"Miracle" is a fitting tribute to the team and the man who led them. Sadly, Brooks was killed in a car accident this past winter and the film is rightfully dedicated to his memory. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Miracle"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Miracle" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.