It has recently come to my attention that I complain about Miracle a lot. It feels like whenever I mention it I'm pointing out something that's incorrect, and I wrote an entire post about things I wish it had included. How ironic, right? I have this whole series about the Miracle on Ice, yet do nothing but nitpick the movie that was my gateway into the whole thing. Shame on me!
Today I'm going to fix this. Because for all of my griping, Miracle did a whole lot of things phenomenally well. I mean, obviously -- if it hadn't, there's a good chance I wouldn't be 10 months deep into Miracle Monday. ;) (Side note: oh god, this is the first time I've put a number on how long I've been doing this series, and 10 months is insane. What.)
1. The Christmas party. This is absolutely my favorite scene in the movie. As talented as this team was, its real strength was how much all the guys loved each other, and this scene is where that dynamic really gets to shine. It's part ridiculous and part touching, and most of the details are spot on. In real life this part took place in a hotel in Lake Placid, not Doc's house in Minnesota, but that's neither here nor there. A good bunch of the gag gifts the guys have are correct (among them are Jack O'Callahan's cigar and Phil Verchota's bull horns), and the real whip given to Herb Brooks is on display at the Olympic museum in Lake Placid. So stellar. :)
2. Little moments of characterization. I didn't notice aaaaaany of these until after I read Boys of Winter, but once I knew what to look for I was blown away by some of the details that were included to subtly show the guys' personalities. Rob McClanahan was shown taping his stick with agonizing perfectionism (and then ripping the tape off when it wasn't to his liking); Phil Verchota finished Herb's psychology test before any of his teammates; Jim Craig was almost always separate from the rest of the group; John Harrington was not shy with the sass... you get the idea. Pay attention to the little stuff and you actually get a great idea of what these guys were like.
3. The Coneheads. In the narrative the movie took, the Coneheads (Buzz Schneider, John Harrington and Mark Pavelich, for any newbies around these parts) ended up playing a very small role; their only real contribution that the movie showed was Buzz's goal against the Soviets. But in real life, the Coneheads were so incredibly important to how well the team performed. I mean, they were the highest-scoring line during the Olympics! So I'm thrilled that Miracle took the time to single them out for their creative style of play and wonderfully weird personalities. They're the only line that got this treatment, and it was well-deserved!
4. "Because we're a family." Oh gosh. If the Christmas party is my favorite scene, "because we're a family" is definitely my favorite line. I love the whole scene, with four guys who used to dislike each other arguing to keep the team intact. But this one line in particular just gets right to the crux of the matter. And I have no idea if this was ever said in real life, or if Mark Johnson was part of this discussion at all, but I love that this was his line and I love how everyone else reacted to it. Mark's a quiet person, but when he does speak it's always something wise or otherwise profound. So it's incredibly fitting that his character dropped this truth bomb, and that it made everyone else stop and listen.
5. Herbies in the dark. I don't really know if this incident was as significant in real life as the movie made it out to be. A bunch of the Minnesotans have said that this was like just another day of practice with Herb. But a good number of guys that did have to skate wear that punishment like a badge of honor, and the guys that didn't have to skate (because they were thrown out of the game or otherwise didn't play) are still hugely relieved that they managed to escape it, even 35 years later. It's pretty hilarious, and I'm not sure this moment would be discussed as much as it is if Miracle hadn't turned it into the stuff of legend. :) And cinematically, it was a great way to get more of a sense of what Herb was like as a coach and watch the team begin to gel.
6. Ralph Cox. Honestly, Miracle would've been just as good a movie had it left out Ralph's storyline. And as much as I hate watching him get cut, I'm so glad that we get to. Ralph is such a great person with such a great attitude and, thanks to Miracle, he has a whole new generation of fans that he completely deserves. Without Miracle he would've just been a footnote. But instead we have "wherever's not gonna get me hit," and aren't our lives so much better for it? :)