IF YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.
Disney have become experts at churning out lightweight movies about real-life and fictional sports personalities who win against the odds. This one stands out, telling the great story of how coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) made a bunch of young, inexperienced hockey players understand that in order to win at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid they were gonna have to start functioning like the Soviet team. Director Gavin O’Connor makes politics an important theme and carefully recreates the look of the era as well as the excitement of the final game between the superpowers. Russell gives an award-worthy performance.
2004-U.S. 135 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Mark Ciardi, Gordon Gray. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. Screenplay: Eric Guggenheim. Cast: Kurt Russell (Herb Brooks), Patricia Clarkson (Patty Brooks), Noah Emmerich (Craig Patrick), Sean McCann, Kenneth Welsh, Eddie Cahill.
Trivia: The story was previously told in a TV movie, Miracle On Ice (1981). The real-life Herb Brooks worked on O’Connor’s movie as a consultant; he subsequently died in a car accident.
Last word: “I realize [the guys who play the hockey players] have never worked before. They’ve never worked as actors. I didn’t want to have them ever feel, any of them go through the process of getting to know Kurt and then watching Kurt be Herb and have any sort of confusion there, or any kind of changeover to make. I said it would be dangerous. They’re going to have enough to deal with. So I thought the best thing to do would just be stay away from them. And then backing that up, this is the relationship that they had with Herb, so it can’t hurt. Progressively, then I saw how that did very much work for us. So as the movie was shot – because of a lot of the hockey stuff was sort of in order – then I began to spend a little more time with them and be a little more me in between takes. By the end, they understood and so the last, I guess it was about two nights to go, I had them all come into the room and we had some beers and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s good to see you’. But they understood.” (Russell, About.com)