"The Miracle Season" is a true story that I’m sure was filled with all sorts of emotion and power. But I don’t think the film does the true story justice. It’s a very unique storyline because it focuses on volleyball and female athletes versus a men’s football team, so I thought it to be one of the more unique films I’ve seen in the past year or so. It has also been a long time since I've seen a “chick-flick” (that can't be a P.C. term), but that’s exactly what it feels like. It’s strongly directed at women, and watching it with my wife was so helpful for me because I saw and heard (afterwards) how it reminded her of her girls lacrosse days. I like how this movie is a healthy watch for young girls and teens, but I’ll probably pass on it (myself) from here on out.
I mean this in all kindness, but I’ve never seen an actress act a character like Danika Yarosh playing "Caroline". Her acting felt like the actual person she was portraying, which was super cool, but then cinematically I was like “how were they okay with this?” It's like watching home footage - meaningful but personal - it narrows the reachable audience. "Caroline's" best friend "Kelly" played by Erin Moriarty was also super unique as an actress. I don’t think volleyball is her natural sport, unlike the rest of the actresses, but man could she cry on command. There’s a lot of crying in this movie, and it’s interesting to watch the film as a male and note the different reactions my basketball team would’ve had to something as tragic as this. Helen Hunt in many ways saves the film from becoming an emotional basket-case and her character (in real life) seems to have actually made this a story interesting enough to become a movie. Helen offers me the depth I needed in this film.
Although this is geared to a very niche audience, I think and hope it will be a powerful experience for them (girls, coaches, and parents of girls who play volleyball, parents whose children have passed away). Although they allude to “finding God”, which is neat, "Ernie Found" (played by William Hurt) really leaps through his development and I didn’t fully grasp the meaning of his faith “journey” (2 scenes) because it never culminates to anything. But still, the whole movie has a solid worldview helpful to its audience.
Sometimes I’m tempted to change this “criteria” to be “Sound” instead of “Music”, and this movie is a great example of why. The sound crew had some fatal flaws in several places throughout the film, including mic pops and leveling issues. Not to mention, every time a song came on I felt the brass section was given preferential treatment. Sports movies are classic for that trumpet horn coming in strong during a defining moment. Well, “The Miracle Season” used the horn and brass accompaniment at every moment they could. Now, on a good note, the licensed music was really good. But after the 4th licensed song I was like, “how much money did they spend on music”? I think they could’ve saved the licensing of a song or two to put toward an experienced sound crew.
Again, I love the uniqueness of this story having a focus on women’s sports. I find myself saying this a lot, but the fact that it followed so closely to the true story both helped and hurt. It helped because it feels very real, even in spite of cheesy moments. It hurt because the movie had a lot of one-off, unnecessary scenes. For me, I would’ve much rather seen this made into a 30-for-30 ESPN special with player, coach, opponent, and community interviews, but they weren’t targeting me so I understand why they didn’t. That being said, the movie could’ve been trimmed pretty significantly.
I’ve got to hand it to this crew on a few things:
1. The costumes were all so exact that it really helped us believe the story.
2. The locations similarly felt like the actual places and offered a very unique look to the film.
3. The lighting, although very obvious on occasions in the gym scenes, was good.
My main issue, yet one that I give them credit for, is that volleyball has to be one of the hardest sports to film. Golf is probably hardest, but volleyball is right up there. I think they could’ve done better in this regard. I kept wondering what it would look like if they did a simple lock off shot of several back and forth sets with brief facial expressions. Sometimes I lost the intensity of the moment because they expected me to understand it, but I couldn’t always grasp what was going on.
Having a wife and daughter I sort of understand the cuteness and emotions happening in the film. That being said, I felt like they played a lot of things safe. Besides picking a unique sport, much of the film felt generic. There were a lot of times in the film where I couldn't believe the same crew had made the previous scene, which was so good yet the one I was watching lacked experience and believeability.