This movie is a fairly effective, if over-polite, tearjerker, with good sports sequences. The Miracle Season feels a bit too sanitized; even when terrible tragedy strikes, the characters keep their language clean. No one drowns their sorrows, and no one even really gets into an argument. Portraying grief realistically is an extremely difficult line for any film to toe, and The Miracle Season definitely errs on the side of caution. (Interestingly, the filmmakers chose to make the circumstances of Line's death less clean than they actually were; in real life, she was on her way home from a church event, while here, it's a teen party, which unintentionally raises uncomfortable questions that were quickly dispelled in reality -- drugs and alcohol were not factors in her crash.) That ends up making the drama feel a bit limited, preventing viewers from experiencing the full depth of the characters' feelings. Which is a shame, because Hunt and Hurt are both Oscar winners. The former is fine as the emotionally shielded coach; she's believable, but we get little insight into who she is. Hurt, meanwhile, has a couple of affecting scenes as the grieving father and widower. In the lead role, Moriarty ably holds the screen with those two veterans and sympathetically portrays a girl coping with a dreadful loss while becoming what her team needs her to be. And in her brief appearance as Line, Yarosh infuses her scenes with quirky energy and warmth.
Without much in the way of suspense (the title rather gives away the game; we can be fairly sure they're going to compete for the title again, or else it might have been called They Were Unable to Overcome a Tragedy) -- or the emotional danger of exploring the depth of the grieving -- the film still manages to move due to moments like Hurt's scenes. And the volleyball sequences are well captured and exciting because, let's face it, volleyball is awesome. Miracle Season is suitable for most ages and delivers a message of perseverance and honoring lost loved ones.