Hockey might not be the most popular sport, but almost everyone loves an underdog and Disney’s ‘Miracle’ will make you an instant fan. Based on the true story of the US Olympic men’s hockey team, it tells the story of how the American team won the gold medal over the very heavily favored Soviet team.
Released in 2004, Kurt Russell plays Coach Herb Brooks who led the team in what was later called, “the miracle on ice.” The film establishes Coach Brooks as a bit of a rebel, as he chooses his team with little regard to the establishment’s rules and protocols. With players from rival schools and universities, it took Coach Brooks’ unorthodox coaching methods to whip them into shape and make them see themselves as “America’s team” instead of a collection of individuals.
It did fairly well with audiences and critics and went on to get a cult following in the years following its release. The docudrama was written by Eric Guggenheim and Mike Rich and is quite sentimental in its telling of America’s team, the David in the scenario, to the Goliath that was the Soviet team.
Sports movies often pull the heartstrings and jerk some tears, and this was no different. Much like all our favorite sports movies, ‘Miracle’ is inspirational and fairly sentimental, but will definitely get you rooting for the boys on the ice. Its feel-good themes are just as relevant today and could be a nice counterbalance of all the bad news of the day.
You can watch ‘Miracle’ online anytime you need a little pick me up, or find ‘Miracle’ streaming when you need something reliably wholesome for the whole family.
Here’s how to stream ‘Miracle’ right now:
How to Stream ‘Miracle’ – Exclusively on Disney+
Miracle is one of the classic Disney sports-themed movies that will be streaming exclusively on Disney’s new subscription streaming service, Disney+.
You can sign up for a 7-day free trial of Disney+ HERE, which will allow you to stream Miracle and hundreds of other movies and shows on your computer, phone, tablet, smart TV or streaming device. If you extend past the free trial, the service costs $6.99/month. You may also opt for this discount bundle of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $12.99/month.
- 1. Sign up for Disney+ here
- 2. Go to Disneyplus.com or download the Disney+ app on your device
- 3. Log in using your information
- 4. Search for “Miracle”
- 5. Tap on Miracle
- 6. Tap on Play
- 7. Enjoy!
Disney+ also boasts a vast library of Disney-owned movies and series — plus several new original series coming soon. The service includes unlimited downloads so you can watch offline whenever and wherever you want. The list of compatible devices and smart TVs includes iPads, Apple TV, Amazon devices, Amazon Fire TV, Android, Chromecast, Roku, PS4, and Xbox One.
Release Date: February 6, 2004
Creators: Eric Guggenheim, Mike Rich
Director: Gavin O’Connor
Starring: Kurt Russell, Patricia Clarkson, Noah, Emmerich
Synopsis: An unlikely college hockey coach is picked to lead the US men’s hockey team in the 1980s. They struggle to overcome personal differences but go on to win the gold medal in the 1980s Olympics.
How Long Is ‘Miracle’?
When University of Minnesota coach Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell) is picked to coach the US men’s hockey team, he has big ideas about how he wants to coach the team. He comes in with confidence during his interview with the Olympics committee, assuring them he has lots of good ideas on how to win against the favored Soviet team.
Brooks meets his assistant coach, Craig Patrick (Noah Emmerich) during the preliminary tryouts, and presents him with a list of 26 hopefuls, which he has to whittle down to 20. He has to convince senior Olympics officials that his unorthodox methods are in the best interest of the team, even though he faces intense scrutiny from the upper establishment.
Once Brooks has his final picks, tempers begin to flare as the individual personalities of the players interfere with their team spirit. Several players came from competing universities and old rivalries seem like they may keep the team from coming together. Adding to the tension of the early practices, players worry they may be cut at anytime, as Brooks has some personal history with an Olympics hockey team and seems to be taking it out on the players.
The team does poorly in an exhibition game against the Norway team, and Brooks understands they are distracted and need more motivation. He makes them do endless “herbies” – the hockey equivalent to a suicide – until their attitudes change and they are committed to a unified team spirit.
Once the actual games arrive, the US team doesn’t start with a particularly remarkable run. However, they go on to beat the top teams to face off against the Soviet team. During an emotional and tense game, the US team brings their heart to the ice and wind up defeating the Soviets, offering up one of the most famous upsets in sports history.
With only a few big-name actors, ‘Miracle’ depends on character development and a shared American nostalgia to win over viewers. Even though we all know what’s going to happen, Russell and Emmerich’s ensure the viewer buy-in.
Kurt Russell as Coach Herb Brooks
Although the real Herb Brooks died during principle photography, Kurt Russell used the time he had with him to perfect his determined stare and commanding voice. Russell was so committed to the idea of team spirit that he took a pay cut so the thousands of extras on the film could have a hot meal, instead of a bagged lunch, every day.
Patricia Clarkson as Patti Brooks
Patricia Clarkson is most recently known as the troubled, dangerous mother from ‘Sharp Objects,’ but her role a Coach Brooks’ wife was a far cry that character. She’s also starred on some other, quite famous, television series, including ‘Frasier,’ ‘Six Feet Under,’ and ‘House of Cards.’ The real Patti Brooks makes a brief cameo as a spectator in the stands of the match against the Russian team.
Noah Emmerich as Craig Patrick
You might recognize Emmerich from his days on ‘The Americans’ where he played Stan Beeman. However, he’s been in some major films during his career, including ‘The Truman Show,’ ‘Master of None,’ and ‘Beautiful Girls.’ The real Coach Patrick went on to coach the Pittsburgh Penguins and led them to win back to back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
‘Miracle’ Songs and Soundtrack
As you can imagine, the soundtrack is chocked full of inspirational and moving music, meant to stir your feelings up. It contains quite a bit of period music, featuring songs by Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult and the J. Geils Band. It also has a stirring rendition of ‘White Christmas’ by Louis Armstrong.
‘Miracle’ at the Box Office
The movie did fairly well at the box office, grossing close to $20 million dollars in its opening weekend. While these might not seem like particularly remarkable numbers today, it only opened to about 2,600 theaters. Overall, it wound up making close to $65 million worldwide.
‘Miracle’ Reviews – What the Critics Said
The initial reviews were mixed for ‘Miracle,’ ranging from tepid to glowing. It was Kurt Russell’s performance that got most of the critics’ praise, but the movie is widely regarded, now, as one of the best sports movies ever made.
Where ‘Miracle’ Fits in the Disney Movie Pantheon
‘Miracle’ relies on the nostalgia and inspiration to make this one of the greatest sports tales ever told on film. It won the best film at the ESPY’s that year and landed on several of The American Film Institute’s best-of lists.
‘Miracle’ Trivia: 5 Fast Facts
Although ‘Miracle’ may seem like just another sports movie, the behind-the-scenes details will surely make you think otherwise.
1. It’s the longest Disney movie ever – sort of.
The ‘Miracle’ film strip was 280 miles long. That means they shot enough footage to occupy 280 miles of negatives – longer than any other Disney movie, ever.
2. You get the actual story.
It’s considered by many to be the most accurate and honest depiction of true events, right down to the characters’ dialogue.
3. They stayed in character, always.
To avoid confusion and to help the players stay in character, Kurt Russell only called the actors by the names of the real Olympic team. He never used their real names.
4. The competition was tough.
Over 4,000 men auditioned to fill the 20 spots on the US team. The actors were chosen for their hockey knowledge and ice skills first, and their acting chops second.
5. Herb Brooks had something to prove.
The real Herb Brooks was a member of the 1960 Olympic Hockey team. A week before the games, his coach cut him and sent him home. That team went on to win the gold medal without him.