Sunday, July 29, 2018

Video review: "The Miracle Season"

“The Miracle Season” is a pretty typical sports flick, with a few worthwhile exceptions.

It focuses on volleyball, not historically a cinematic gold mine, and features a high school girls’ team. I’m trying to even think of another recent women’s sports movie -- “Bend It Like Beckham” is all I can come up without resorting to Google, and that was 16 years ago.

More importantly, this drama features not one but two Oscar winners in leading roles: Helen Hunt as Kathy “Brez” Bresnahan, the longtime coach of West High School Iowa City, and William Hurt as Ernie Found, a doctor and father of the team’s best player, Caroline aka “Line” (Danika Yarosh).

Line is an exuberant personality who would be the center of attention even if she wasn’t captain of the team, which has a long string of state championships under its belt. When she tragically dies early on, it shakes up the entire team, and community.

Erin Moriarty plays Kelly, Line’s best friend and a marginal player on the team. She suddenly finds the mantle of leadership thrust into her hands, and struggles with the role. There’s also conflict with Brez, who is aces at the X’s and O’s of the game but not really a touchy-feely type. She learns to come out of her shell a bit and coach them not just in the game, but how to handle their emotions after a devastating loss.

The movie -- directed by Sean McNamara from a screenplay by Elissa Natsueda and David Arron -- follows the traditional path of sports movies. The team goes from presumed favorites to underdogs stringing up a bunch of losses or forfeitures. But they eventually get their act together to take another run at the state title.

Nobody is going to confuse “The Miracle Season” with groundbreaking cinema. But it takes a tried-and-true formula, executes it well and tosses in some superlative acting and spotlighting of an overlooked sport to give it distinction.

Video extras are disappointingly slim. There’s a single documentary short, “Star Player,” and a gallery of production stills.



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