We didn't realize it at the time, but this was the last movie Tammy and I saw as a couple :-(
I knew nothing about hockey when this happened, but I was swept up in the Cinderella story of it all. It was a close game, so it was exciting right down to the end.
The movie starts a year before the Olympics. Kurt Russell plays the unorthodox coach. He studies the Soviets like crazy. Comes up with an entirely different system than has ever been used against them (they don't bother even trying to explain it in the movie.) From the tryouts, he passes over several top players, he says to put together the right mix of players for his new system. Somehow, he envisions something that nobody else understands. Again, they don't go into any detail, so it remains mysterious to the audience, too.
The one thing they do go into is conditioning. He states nobody has been able to keep up with the Soviets for the entire game, because they're pushed so hard. So the movie shows them skating lines. Over and over. After one poor performance at an exhibition game they show him pushing the players on and on. I don't remember if they showed the clock, but the implication was that it was hours.
They show one line of players who are really in synch. Again, it's glossed over to the point that the audience doesn't get to follow in what way they work together better than other lines. It's just stated for us. Apparently they were referred to as the Coneheads. I'm surprised I don't remember that from the time.
They briefly show his relationship with his wife. How his obsession shakes his marraige a little. But they don't really go into it very deeply. It's cleared up within a few minutes. They spend a little time here and there on him giving lots of chances to his goalie. Pushing the kid to perform up to the potential he sees in him.
They spend a little time showing the early round games. They show the coach protecting the players from the media and not allowing any interviews. And then artfully deflecting criticism that he's trying to hog the limelight.
About the final quarter of the movie was the Big Game against the Soviets. And as I've kept saying, they keep everything pretty vague. You're kept up on the score, but not really shown anything substantive about the plays.
And that pretty much describes the movie. They captured some of the emotion, and I left the theatre pretty happy. But I kept feeling that I'd like a little more depth.
On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Rental with Dinner. Not too formulaic. A bit superficial, though. It did capture the excitement of the game, though.
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