Hoosiers (1986)

This has actually been quite a busy news week: According to a Californian radio evangelist, the world was supposed to end on Saturday at 6:00 pm, Oprah is taping her last show (and to many people, those two stories are actually one and the same), and The Miami Heat are in the playoffs.

I now live in Miami, I’m not sure what I’m supposed to call that team. Do I call them:

1. The Miami Heat,

2. Miami Heat,

3. Miami,

4. The Heat,

5. the Heat,

or, their official title,

6. Lebron James and Those Two Other Guys.

Enough talk about over-priced players with super-egos playing on a team that feels they can buy their way to a national championship. I’d much rather talk about my favorite sports team, the New York Yankees.

But I digress.

Hoosiers tells the true story of the 1954 Indiana High School team that made it to the state championships and is often listed as one of the greatest sports movies ever made, but it doesn’t have to be sub-categorized that way. Whether or not you like sports, if you like a good movie, you’ll like Hoosiers.

Reason # 1: Gene Hackman. He is one of those actors that makes acting seem effortless. Here he portrays a former collage basketball coach, Norman Dale, who hasn’t coached for 10 years due to some dark secret. He comes to Hickory,  a small Indiana High School, to take over coaching duties. His scenes of coaching during the games are electrifying. He has one of the greatest yelling voices in film history.

Reason # 2: Dennis Hopper. He portrays, Shooter, the alcoholic estranged father of one of Coach Dale’s players. Shooter’s brain is a wealth of basketball knowledge that is saturated by alcohol. Coach wants to use him as an assistant, if he can dry out. The scene where the Coach tells him he will have to stop his drinking to assist the team, is stunning. Keep your eyes glued to Hopper’s face. With a minimal use of facial muscles, every emotion bursts forth. Unbelievable.

Reason #3: Director David Anspaugh stages the scenes on the court so beautifully, even a person totally ignorant of the game can follow what happens. His skillful use of slow-motion, music (with a special nod to Jerry Goldsmith), crowd shots and flash bulbs, turn the climactic game into a visual symphony.

For you husbands who are trying to make this movie more appealing so your wives will give you permission to rent it, tell them there is a nice romantic subplot with Hackman and Barbara Hershey. This is also a good movie to see what she looked like before her plastic surgery. Speaking of plastic surgery, we live in Miami. I didn’t realize until recently the Official State Chemical is Botox!

So turn off the Heat, and turn on Hoosiers. You won’t regret it. Go Huskers!

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