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Directed by Gavin O'Connor.
Written by Eric Guggenheim. 
Starring Kurt Russell and Patricia Clarkson.
Release Year:  2004 
Review Date:  4/2004 


The Kurt Russell hockey flick “Miracle” is, for an all-kinds-of-sports fan like myself, just completely beautiful.  Bypassing the normal clichés for team-based comedies and dramas like this—you know, out of a ten-man team, you’ve got the redneck, the dumb jock, the scrappy all-out-hustle gym rat, the transfer, and on and on—“Miracle” just gives you the straight story about a coach (Russell) that leads a group of 18 kids from the Boston and greater Minneapolis area to the Olympic gold in 1980’s Lake Placid, New York Games.

And, for anyone that has played sports in high school, you get all those great reminders of why practice can be so much fun.  You watch as your teammates gel around you; you watch as Coach imposes his will on you, trying to break you with multiple suicides, name-calling and other mind tricks.  “Miracle” is great for us non-hockey fans, since the sport being played doesn’t really matter as much as teamwork, clutch plays and the thrill of victory; as Team USA works towards its goal of defeating four-time defending Gold-medal winner Russia in Lake Placid, you get caught up in the team’s drive to succeed by rarely being affected by the hockey X’s and O’s of the sport.

I loved this movie, and during the time that I was sitting there watching the re-enactment of the semifinal between the US and the Commies, I was loving the original play-by-play of Al Michaels during the haps.  The halftime speech during that game was great, the emotions were lovely, and the ending was fantastic.

Russell and the actors portraying the team’s various players do the trick.  We also get to peek into the home life of the coach, with Patricia Clarkson doing able work as the coach’s wife.  Nothing to complain about here…the speed of the hockey is great, the pacing of the film is brisk and the film accomplishes the goal of firing you up about being an American.  Can’t complain about this film a bit.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09