Tuesday, February 17, 2004

It's a "Miracle" that I didn't doze off watching the hoorayific recreation of the 1980 Olympics hockey hullaballooooo (methinks too many "ooooo"s spoil that sentence). Thank God (kicksave and a beauty) that they hired Count Dracula's son to play the Russky coach, Victor Tichonov. He's worth the price of admission alone, though I would have preferred that he had somehow appeared in more scenes...say like a dream sequence of a Slavic Satan, engorged with the blood of players of vanquished teams. Or, as comedy relief (because this movie just takes itself WAY TOO seriously), have good (Joe Flaherty's SCTV character Count Floyd) and bad ("Miracles"''s Viktor Tichonov) versions of Satan sitting on Herb Brooks' (Kurt Russell) shoulder offerring advice/curses as he spends night after night watching game film of the mighty Soviet Army....uhh, I mean, Hockey Team.
But that's just me. I'm old enough to remember watching the real thing (on tape delay..because ABC opted not to telecast it live), and it's tough to re-create the "Game". Not because of the action sequences, but because of the times the game was played in. The world is so much different, not safer or more dangerous, just different. While "Miracle" tries to set the tone of those times using a rapid montage of sound bites, tv footage, & occassional snapshots, the efforts fall a bit short. The "Game" was so special because of the peculiarity of the time/space continuum it occupied. And the end result was due, in large part, to a fluke. As Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) said in the movie, "...in 10 games, we'd be lucky to win just one..and this will be the one."
The Walt Disney movie edges along that precipice where legitimate movies sometimes cross over into nationalist propaganda. Vilifying the Russians by giving them the unibrow, dark makeup, scowling in perpetuity look seems so out of place. They hated their coach Tichonov almost as much as we feared the team's prowess. I'm not suggesting that there be polite banter between crunching hits..but they could have eased up a bit on the totalitarianism and inserted some hints of humor or humanity.
Kurt Russell was enjoyable to watch. Aside from the nest of hair he had to wear, the Minnesota covered-dish/Lutheran accent he maintained throughout was believable and delightfully not East Coast affected. The action sequences were affective, although, if vilifying the Russians was the aim of the director, I wish he'd inserted Matthew Barnaby, Darcy Tucker, and Donald Brasheur (hey!! there may have been a Black Russian?!?!) into the Big Red uniforms. In addition to providing more crunching hits, I bet at least Barnaby would have cracked a toothless smile......and we always knew that American dental care reigned world supreme, regardless of our hockey exploits.

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