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Saturday, February 07, 2004

Believe in "Miracle"

The past two weeks kicked the slats out of this part of North Carolina. The snow began falling on January 25 and effectively locked everything down for the better part of the following week. That and two bouts of freezing rain that closed schools all over the place and made travel a major hassle. Now, at last, the last remnants of the white stuff are disappearing, so we've been able to get out and live a bit more.

So this afternoon, Lisa and I went to the movies. Next weekend is Valentine's so I owe her a "chick flick" on top of dinner, but today we saw a lil' flick that's been on my radar screen for some months now.

You gotta see "Miracle", if you haven't done so already. In my opinion it's even better than "Remember The Titans" and that's saying a lot. Easily the best sports-driven movie to come along in awhile to be sure.

"Miracle" is the story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team and Herb Brooks, its head coach. If I were to say that much, you know exactly how this movie is going to end: with the U.S. team pulling off what some have since called the "sports upset of the century" by toppling the hockey machine that was the Soviet Union's team, undefeated at the Olympics for 20 years. Just the title of the movie more than suggests its plot to even the most casual of sports fans: "Do you believe in miracles?!" NBC sports announcer Al Michaels screamed in the final seconds of that matchup at Lake Placid.

I've read numerous accounts from players on the U.S. team that "Miracle" depicts what happened in the months leading up to that game as accurately as could possibly be done. Which may be what helps "Miracle" as a true-life sports movie: the whole theme of "players from different backgrounds" that's been done to death? It's still here, but it's balanced out against everything else and in the end it's perfect. This is probably the best performance Kurt Russell's ever done: he nailed every nuance of Herb Brooks in this, right down to the manic gum-chewing and overturning the table in the locker room (he really did).

You know what the real theme of this movie is, that's going to get lost on a lot of people? That America is still good, because there's good people to be found here. It's not good because of good government or good management... heck no. It's good because when pushed, when driven, the people of this country can go far. And that's something that's gone missing in the post 9-11 world.

Finally, "Miracle" accomplishes something that no other movie in history has done before or ever will again: using the infamous Jimmy Carter "malaise speech" to good effect :-P

Go see "Miracle". And believe.