What do we need and expect from a great sports movie? An opponent that seems unbeatable. A legion of people telling the coach for the team that their goals are impossible and their tactics the wrong ones. The coach needs to believe throughout all of it, and have a strong ally that builds them up when they start to lose faith in themselves. And a team that fights themselves but comes together in the end. In comes Kurt Russell’s Miracle, a hockey movie from 2004 that’s made Vulture’s list of the top 50 sports movies. If you’ve added this one to your Netflix queue, you have until June 1st to check it out. Here’s everything you need to know about the movie to help you decide if it’s worth playing this one before it leaves the streaming service.
Miracle is based on the true story of an American men’s hockey team. They played against the Soviet’s in the 1980 Olympics. Kurt Russell plays coach Herb Brooks in the film. You can get a look at the tone of the movie in the trailer below.
Kurt Russell’s character has a major driving motivation to want to coach a winning team. In his younger years, the coach was on a team destined for the Olympics. His coach cut him a week before they left for the Olympics. They went on to win, without him. Now is his second chance. He comes to the game with new ideas about training and game strategies that many are skeptical of, but they eventually give in and the coach is able to move forward, but not without resistance from everyone around him, except his wife, played by Patricia Clarkson.
The movie was made for Disney in 2004 on a budget of $28 million. It earned $64 million at the box office. It also earned a slew of positive reviews. Many of them particularly applauded Kurt Russell’s performance in this one. This movie is definitely a feel-good story that you can watch with the family and walk away from in a good mood. It’s been well-received by audiences over the years, who have given is an 81% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and rated it 7.5 on IMDb.
From the beginning, director Gavin O’Connor knew he wanted Kurt Russell for this film. As for the actors who make up the team, they decided it would be easier to teach hockey players how to act than it would be to teach actors how to play hockey. With this mindset, they auditioned hockey players and took the best to be in the film. The story centers on the coach and his determination, so this made sense. Interestingly, some of the actors who made up the hockey team did go on to have acting careers. One of the key players is Eddie Cahill, who went on to have a role in Friends as Rachel’s attractive secretary, and then a longstanding role on CSI: NY.
This movie came at a time when Kurt Russell was still playing major roles, but not as many. In 1996, he did a follow-up to Escape From New York with Escape From L.A. He has a part in Vanilla Sky in 2001. And then in 2004, he impressed audiences with Miracle. Since then, we’ve seen him in quite a few movies. Notably, he’s been in Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the seventh Fast & Furious film, Bone Tomahawk, Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight and then Once Upon a Time… In Hollywood, and has a major role as Star-Lord’s father in Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2. He also played Santa Claus for Netflix and is returning as Mr. Nobody in Fast & Furious 9.
While Kurt Russell’s career hasn’t been as prolific since the mid-90s, he’s still consistently in a lot of movies and seems to have become more choosy about which projects he takes on. Clearly, he believed in Miracle. It was different than a lot of other roles he’d taken on up to that point. By 2004, he was possibly most well known as an action-star for his role as Snake Plissken in Escape From New York. The coach in a plaid blazer was a far cry from that role and helped remind audiences that they enjoy watching him, whether he’s Santa or Goldie Hawn’s guy or the whispering man with a gun and an eye patch who gets the job done.
Are you in the mood for an inspirational sports movie? Many feel that Miracle is one of the best, so if this is a genre that helps warm your heart, you’ll want to catch it on Netflix before it leaves the streaming service at the beginning of June.