Miracle

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
Miracle Movie Poster Image
Moving story of the 1980 Olympic hockey team.
  • PG
  • 2004
  • 130 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 9 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

Parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Perseverance and dedication can lead to the most extraordinary victories. The can-do spirit of the 1980 U.S. Hockey Team and their completely unexpected victory over the seemingly unstoppable Soviet Union hockey team rekindled a patriotic fervor in America that had dissipated in the 1970s backdrop of Watergate, the end of the Vietnam War, and the Iranian Hostage Crisis. 

Positive role models & representations

Through hard work, perseverance, and an exhausting practice regimen, Coach Herb Brooks trained his players to be gold medal champions in a time before professional players were allowed to compete in the Olympics. His coaching methods brought out the best in the players. The players themselves, pushed to the brink of mental and physical exhaustion, push themselves as hard as they can for the sake of themselves, their coach, the team, and ultimately, their country. 

Violence & scariness

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of hockey violence in this movie. Players check, crosscheck, slash, trip, and knock each other onto the ice. When the U.S. Team is trying to coalesce, two players from rival college teams get into a fight on the ice; Coach Brooks allows the fight to go on so the two rivals can get their hatred for each other out of their system. 

Sexy stuff

During a game, some players on the bench of the U.S. team point out attractive women in the stands and how they would like to take them home. 

Language

Occasional profanity. ""Ass," "bastards," "hell." During a hockey match before the Olympics at Madison Square Garden, fans unfurl a banner that reads, "Soviets Get the Puck Out of Afghanistan." 

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Players drink beer in a bar, and one of the players wants to fight a former rival who walks in but is held back. Drinking at a Christmas party. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Miracle is a 2004 movie based on the true story of the unlikely Gold Medal victory of the United States hockey team during the 1980 Winter Olympics. Unsurprisingly, there's frequent hockey violence during the games and during a practice in which two players who went to rival colleges throw down the gloves and get into a fistfight on the ice. Coach Brooks allows the fight to go on so the rival players can get their hatred for each other out of their system and they can start working together as teammates. While there is certainly a "Hollywood" feel to what was an extraordinary event, the movie also pulls no punches in showing the intense training and practice regimen Coach Brooks put his players through; after a loss before the Olympics begin, Brooks has his players skate a drill in which they skate as fast as they can from the goal line to the blue line and back until some begin to fall or vomit from exhaustion. Occasional profanity includes ""ass," "bastards," and "hell." During a hockey match before the Olympics at Madison Square Garden, fans unfurl a banner that reads, "Soviets Get the Puck Out of Afghanistan." Overall, this is an inspiring presentation of a team who transcended their sport and helped make Americans believe in themselves and their country again. 

User Reviews

Adult Written byfozzie April 9, 2008

Both Grandma and 13 yr old grandson loved movie

Pleasantly surprised that, yes, a greatly entertaining film can be made without all the foul language and meaningless sex scenes. A little slow at the start bu...
Parent of an infant year old Written bydocholliday August 13, 2012

Educational

Great movie on how hard work and discipline can lead to greatness, and bring joy to thousands of people. Also, teaches to look inside oneself and strive to neve...
Teen, 14 years old Written byovechkin April 9, 2008

Great movie!

I would bet that I have seen this movie like a million times and it never gets old. Since my family eat, sleeps and breathes ice hockey this movie fits in. Even...
Teen, 15 years old Written byCSM Screen Name... April 9, 2008

The best sports movie ever!

Whats more to say! Its as perfect movie for almost anyone!

What's the story?

Sportscaster Al Michaels unforgettably called out "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" as the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team beat the Russians. They then went on to win the Gold Medal. And so the team, the last group of amateurs sent by the United States to play ice hockey, has been known ever after as the "Miracle on Ice." MIRACLE is a meticulous recreation of the training, strategy, and the key moments of the team's path to Olympic gold.

Is it any good?

The silver medal goes to Kurt Russell's fine performance as coach Herb Brooks. Russell is willing to be unattractive in appearance and behavior to convey Brooks' famously tough and withholding style. As this movie shows, miracle is the very last word to be used to describe this team. It's better than a miracle because it's the story of a team that succeeded through heart and hard work and commitment. If it's a miracle, it's in the "God helps those who help themselves" category. This isn't an "up close and personal" saga. You're not going to get to find out all the quirky personal details of the members of the team. This is a movie for hard-core hockey fans.

The movie is less successful when it gives us the inevitable toll-on-the-family scenes, even with the magnificent Patricia Clarkson as Mrs. Brooks, explaining that just because Herb is coaching the Olympic team doesn't mean that he can shirk his responsibilities at home. And the movie's weakest point is its attempt to make the team's triumph too much of a symbol. It spends too much time trying to convey the sense of the era, with an opening credit sequence of clips showing lines at the gas station and Jimmy Carter's speech about how depressed everyone was. Yes, the Miracle on Ice was immensely satisfying at a moment when America needed some heroes. But trying to re-create that mood takes away from the genuine splendor of the team's achievement, which is more than enough on its own.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Brooks picked the team he wanted. He was not much of a team player himself when it came to the committee members. Families could also talk about the coaches and teachers and mentors who have inspired them to do their best -- probably not always the ones who were the nicest.

  • Throughout the movie, there are references to the recent and current events of that time. There is mention of Watergate, the end of the Vietnam War, gas shortages, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and excerpts from what came to be known as Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech to the American people. What purpose does this historical backdrop serve? How does it heighten the stakes of the story? 

  • How does this movie compare with other "sports underdog" movies? What are some other examples of this genre? 

Movie details

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