Focused on achieving the impossible -- defeating the Soviet Union's unbeaten hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics -- brash U.S. hockey coach Herb Brooks unites a motley group of college athletes and turns them into a force to be reckoned with.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

If, like me, you expect to see rousing sports entertainment and unashamed American patriotism by renting this film, you'll probably be as satisfied as I was. It's not really about the game (the cinematography is rarely showy), and it's not really about the players (the screenplay sees almost all of them as generic amateurs). It focuses its attention on coach Herb Brooks, a wise decision as his adversarial coaching method is the most interesting story here. Kurt Russell has done an admirable job of maturing from a hungry-eyed young bad-ass into a weary-eyed middle-aged bad-ass, and he plays Brooks with the attention to performance that the man himself used in the locker room. The only significant misstep is the underuse of Patricia Clarkson, who is cast as the billionth wife-who-wants-her-husband-to-come-to-bed in a sports movie, or any movie about male competitiveness; it's apparently impossible that she might actually support her husband in his obviously important and difficult endeavor. Anyway, "Miracle" is a good rental for Memorial Day or any day; it's an exciting film that sidelines the sports action in favor of its interesting protagonist instead of the other way around.

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