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That championship season
jotix10023 August 2005
David Anspaugh's "Hoosiers" is a film about the passion to excel in sports. It's also about a man's comeback to the game after a rough patch in his own life. "Hoosiers" is a timeless film that will look good after years of its release because it speaks to us about how someone can inspire a group of people to do their best, as they become confident in what they are trying to accomplish. The film was lovingly written for the screen by Angelo Pizzo.

Coach Norman Dale gets a reprieve in life when he is hired to coach the Hickory basket ball team in rural Indiana. Basketball is the game where most people in that state take an unusual interest. Their passion for the sport is evident. The new coach is looked with suspicion because he is an outsider and he believes in teamwork. He wants everyone to participate equally, which doesn't make for excitement in the court. The coach doesn't want anyone overshadowing another, that's why he insists in total involvement. Needless to say, his method clashes with the parents and towns people from the start.

The coach's past comes to haunt him when Myra Fleener, one of the teachers, discovers an article that reveals an incident Mr. Dale would like to forget. At the same time, Myra realizes the goodness in the coach's heart by involving the drunken Shooter into helping him with the team.

Gene Hackman has one of the best opportunities of his distinguished career with his portrayal of Coach Dale. He is splendid in the film and he wins us with his decency and by sticking to his principles, which he passes on to the team members. Barbara Hershey is also good as Myra, the young woman who falls in love with Dale. Dennis Hopper plays Shooter, the father of one of the kids in the team who has a drinking problem.

"Hoosiers" is an inspiring film that ought to be seen by young people because of its message about team spirit and how to interact with one another in peace and harmony.
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In Inspiriing Story Of Second-Chances
ccthemovieman-121 March 2006
What makes this one of the most popular sports films of all time isn't just the sport, it's because it's such a human-interest film, such a wonderful story of giving people second chances in life. Add a true-life David beat Goliath story and you have an appealing film.

It doesn't hurt that Gene Hackman is the star, either. He may not have that celebrity appeal or the looks of Clark Gable or Bratt Pitt, but this man can flat-out act! He makes a very believable high school basketball coach who is tough-but-fair on the outside and soft-and-compassionate on the inside.

The story of an extremely tiny school defying the odds and becoming a state champion in dramatic form was so inspiring that this film has played thousands of times for 20 years now by high school coaches to their kids for motivation.

But the key to the story is the coach getting a second chance in life to do what he loves and does best and he, in turn, giving others a second chance such as the alcoholic here played by Dennis Hopper. There are great lessons on teamwork, patience, tolerance and a whole bunch of other qualities. In one of the DVD documentaries, both Hackman and Hoppper comment on how many times people have approached them and THIS is the movie they mention that meant so much them. That says a lot since both men have made many famous movies.

An unsung hero of this movie is the cinematography. Man, this is beautifully filmed and the rural Midwest has never looked so pretty and appealing. It paints a beautiful picture of this part of the United States. It also paints a fond remembrance of the early 1950s. You get an honest-to-goodness feel of what it's like to be part of a basketball in this area during that time,

Basketball meant an awful lot - and still does - to these folks. If you are sports fan in particularly, this movie will bring a tear or two to your eyes. However, this story is for everyone who believes people deserve chances to overcome previous mistakes. Few films, whatever the topic, have the "heart" this movie demonstrates.
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A great portrait of Indiana high school basketball's glory days!
leczorn27 April 2005
When I heard that a movie was being made about Milan (Indiana) High School's improbable 1954 boys' basketball state championship54, I was excited. Not only because I, like most Hoosiers, love basketball but also because of my family connection to "The Milan Miracle," as it's widely known. One of my uncles, Bob Wichmann, was a member of that team. MHS was by far the smallest school to win the championship in Indiana's 87 years of single class basketball. I was really looking forward to see who they were going to choose to play Uncle Bob!

When I learned around the time of the movie's release that it wasn't going to be be an actual biography but merely inspired by the Milan 1954 team, I was disappointed. Shortly afterward, on my 16th birthday, my maternal grandparents - Uncle Bob's parents - took me to see the movie at a theater. I didn't dislike it but I had a hard time being objective about it because it was something other than what hoped it would be.

But I recently gave "Hoosiers" another shot. I bought its two DVD collector's edition - largely for the bonus features - and saw the movie for only the second time ever and the first time in 18 years, a little over half of my life. The second time, I managed to view it simply as it is as opposed to my original expectations and I enjoyed it much more.

"Hoosiers" in a fictional story about the 1951-52 Hickory High School team. The Huskers are coming off a solid 15-10 season but are now in disarray following the death of their coach and the subsequent departure of their best player, the painfully quiet Jimmy Chitwood (played by Maris Valainis).

Their new coach, Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), arrives after practice for the new season has already begun. Dale is a former college coach who has spent the last 10 years in the Navy and his tenure with the Huskers gets off to a bad start. Two of the team's seven remaining players quit during his first practice - though both end up returning - and he alienates much of the town with his dogmatic philosophy and sometimes abrasive style.

Among those not pleased with Dale is fellow teacher Myra Fleener (Barbara Hershey) who thinks that basketball is over emphasized and academics are under emphasized. She and Dale clash a few times early on, which means, of course, that they end up falling in love.

The season starts off badly for the Huskers and a town meeting is soon scheduled to decide whether to fire Dale of keep him. Fleener has discovered that he was fired from his college coaching job for hitting one of his players but doesn't reveal that information and speaks on his behalf. Still, the audience seems largely unmoved.

It looks like Dale is about to be fired but Chitwood enters like the calvary and, speaking for one of the few times in the movie, says that he is ready to return to playing but will do so only if the coach stays. Dale's job is saved and from there, the team improves greatly and becomes a state championship contender.

You can probably figure out what happens in the end, but the movie works the underdog formula to perfection without being overly cliché.

The performances in "Hoosiers" are great, particularly Dennis Hopper's best supporting actor Oscar nominated role as Shooter, the father of one of the players. Hopper does a phenomenal job of acting like a basketball crazed drunk, though I thought it was a bit much for Dale to make him an assistant coach. That is one of a few cases of over Hollywoodization in this movie.

And where I think the movie succeeds the most is in portraying Indiana's unique love for high school basketball. Many non-Hoosiers who see the movie probably think that the residents criticizing the coach on the street, the caravan of cars traveling to away games, the emotional town meeting on the coach's fate and the general hysteria are an exaggeration. That is not the case.

High school basketball in Indiana was an obsession for several decades and still is, though to a lesser extent. Many small towns passionately embraced the local high school team, which was often a point of unity, identity and pride.

One other strong point about the movie, the late, great Jerry Goldsmith's adrenaline pumping music heightens the emotion of the game scenes down the stretch.

The collector's edition DVD set also contains three bonus features that I think are worthy of mention here:

*A 29 minute documentary about the making of the movie, the Milan '54 story and Indiana's love for basketball.

*The 1954 state championship game between Milan and Muncie Central. I'm almost 100% sure that the commentary is done by Tom Carnegie, who was been the voice of the Indianapolis 500 since 1946. Tom was the commentator on the ESPN broadcast of the game last year.

The game footage is far from great but it's not bad and it's good to have any at all. The audio quality is shaky. But it's great to finally have this monumentally historic game easily available.

*Several deleted scenes, introduced by director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo. In my opinion, a few of the scenes were unnecessary but many should have been included. One of those scenes gives insight in Buddy Walker's (Brad Long) return to the team and several others give deeper insight into the romantic relationship that developed between Dale and Fleener. Pizzo and Anspaugh said they wanted to include some of those scenes but were told by the movie company to make the movie under two hours.

In conclusion, I now greatly enjoy "Hoosiers" as fiction and its new collector's edition DVD set is a great buy for any sports movie fan! 8/10
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A superb time-capsule of mid-century, mid-western Americana.
dimension047 March 2005
This movie is authentic nostalgia for anyone who grew up in the mid-west in the 50's and 60's. It's what life looked like when I myself "came down to this planet" in the late 1940's and experienced my teens in the 60's.

The old school with high ceilings and gleaming wooden floors, the gyms with the gold-toned wall-tiles, even the hospital scene with the nurse in her starched white uniform -- all evoke a peculiar beauty that you no longer find today.

There is even a scene where a young teen girl yells "NO!" to an unjust referee call, and her pointy glasses and pony tail look so much like me back then, it feels like a glimpse into a parallel dimension.

I'd say this is a must-see experience for people my age -- although all ages can thoroughly enjoy the basketball action.

I'm glad for the social progress since then. But there is a "peculiar beauty" from those times that is starkly missing today.
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Easily the best sports movie ever made.
Haradrim26 June 2004
A movie that defines the idea of the underdogs rising to meet the challenge of greatness, Hoosiers gives the audience something to cheer for. A tough-as-nails coach with a heart of gold, a team of farmboys with dreams of making it to the state finals, a small town pinning their hopes on their little high school - the movie has it all. It is well-paced, and is not overladen with side-plots and frivolities. There are no doped-up, foul-mouthed players, no need for gratuitous "party hearty" shots of the players behaving like hedonists or abusing their opponents. Some sports movies may trade in that stock and be considered "great" for it; this film doesn't and it's better for it. Superbly cast, superbly acted, and superbly executed. A worthy addition to the library of any sports film fan.
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You WILL Love This Movie
e-schmidt26 March 2000
Everybody, especially those who live in the Midwest, will love this movie about an intense coach (Gene Hackman) with a questionable reputation who finds himself in a small Indiana town faced with the unenviable task of turning around tiny Hickory High's 8-man basketball team. Basketball fans will appreciate the movie for its authentic portrayal of small-town high school basketball in the 1950's. ALL viewers will enjoy this fun film for its triumphs and its classic, feel-good story of David and Goliath. This movie is not about a basketball team. This movie is about an entire community that comes together and rallies around the one thing they can all share - the Hickory High Huskers. 10/10
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Hoosiers is misunderstood
panchito-126 March 2005
I have been reading, and summing up comments about this movie. I can't believe how misunderstood this movie is. First and foremost this is not a movie about the Milan team's championship, and Bobby Plump's winning shot. The Milan game is the most famous, and storied game in Indiana and is only used as the quientessential example.

The movie is a collection of typical things that happen in Indiana High School basketball which is known as "Hoosier Hysteria". The locker room scenes are typical, found each year at tournament time. The small town involvement is typical. Players deciding if they want to succumb to the social pressures of the sport, or dreaming of winning is typical. Teacher nudging is typical. The appearance of religious faith is also typical in small town Indiana. It's right in the bible belt.

Smaller, less talented underdog teams are the life-blood of passion about playing, and winning. Winning systems, coaching tactics, fundamentals, and character-building are staples of the Hoosier H.S. game. Read John Wooden's books and you'll see them clearly. (John Wooden-Martinsville, IN; Purdue, and UCLA).

The character played by Dennis Hopper is underscored, not by his drunken state and redemption, but by his basketball knowledge. In Indiana, everyone from every walk of life knows more about the history of the game, and how to win the game than the coach. There are walking, talking Hoosier basketball historians in every small town.

Another Hoosier staple is the sequence of the tournament. Every march since the 1920's the Indiana H.S. tournament starts with a sectional, regional, sweetsixteen, and final four state championship. Hence, all games and scores that were shown in the movie. Although, Hickory H.S. is fictictious, the opposing team names were real Indiana schools in the western part of the state: Jasper, Linton, Logootee, etc.

The movie actually tried, but fell short in my opinion of the excitement at tournament time. The noise level, and absolute excitement of the H.S. tournaments is something you have to experience. Just walking into the gyms gives you chill bumps. Being the local game night hero is paramount, (but it creates it's own special problems.) I firmly feel, having experienced it myself, that the movie makers were trying to capture a unique phenomenon in sports using typical events. They displayed the key aspects of Indiana H.S. basketball in film to communicate the experience to the rest of the world.

I was pleased, and excited to see how many reviewers were inspired by the film. Many who lived these events over the years are similarly motivated.

P.S. Coaches do not kiss teachers except in Hollywood.
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Full of passion and heart.
Richard Brunton30 December 2000
This film is primarily about Basketball, but don't let that fool you, I have no interest in the game but I was yanked into it and was feeling the passion of the coach, players and the town all the way through.

The underlying thread is of forgiveness and second chances. You never really know what was behind the need for these second chances, but that doesn't matter, you feel for these people, and a lot of that is to do with Gene Hackman.

One of my favourite actors, Hackman pulls off a fantastic performance here, with an amazing backup from Dennis Hopper. What a combination.

Passion, guts, determination, and without too much of a sickly taste in the mouth. A lovely film to watch.
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The ROCKY of Basketball
kenandraf1 September 2001
Classic movie which effectively transports the audience to 1952 Indiana countryside and the story's circumstances.One of the all time best sports dramas ever and also one of film's all time best pure dramas as well.The lead actors are so believable and the attention to detail so admirable.Love story subplot is created to please romance fans as well as add more to the story.To Basketball fans,it is also a great lesson regarding the POWER OF GAME FUNDAMENTAL KNOW HOW.Athletics is a great weapon in Basketball BUT INTELLIGENT KNOW HOW can take a player with little athletic ability to a very high level.When a young player with great athletic ability takes the patience to learn the KNOW HOWS,he becomes superhuman like.This is the lesson HOOSIERS has effectively demonstrated.A must see for all Basketball fans and most sports movie fans......
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This was the best sports movie I've ever seen.
jim-kelly11 March 2005
Gene Hackman gave his usual Oscar-winning performance while Dennis Hopper was simply outstanding. What can you say about a feel good movie like this. I've always enjoyed happy ending and this was one of the best. It almost made me feel like I wanted to be a basketball fan in Indiana in 1951. This movie left me feeling that I wanted to watch it again (I've already seen it five times). That's what great movies do to you, they force you to keep coming back. For me, Patton and The Sting were like that. I've seen Patton 15 times and The Sting at least 10. That's why I purchased Hoosiers instead of renting it. I've recommended it to my friends so they can derive the same satisfaction from it that I did. It helps to be a sports fan but not necessarily because this movie was a metaphor for life. It was truly a David versus Goliath-type story.
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Simply great drama for non-sports fans, too
fertilecelluloid8 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I'm no armchair sportsman and I've never played basketball, but to enjoy "Hoosiers" you don't need to meet those requirements. "Hoosiers" is simply great, superbly acted drama. The story is standard underdog material, but with a terrific cast including Gene Hackman, Dennis Hopper and Barbara Hershey, it soars. It is refreshing to see a sports movie in which the players are not a bunch of arrogant, obnoxious, beer-swilling yahoos whose only ambition off the court is to get laid. No, these high school boys from a very small town are a sorry lot whose spirits are revived by a coach (Hackman) on the last legs of his checkered career. Dennis Hopper, who plays the embarrassing, alcoholic father of one of the players, is a revelation here as a man given yet another chance to prove that he isn't a terminal loser. The film is comprised of many games, and in the hands of a hack, it might have become tiresome. But director David Anspaugh works hard to inject great dramatic tension into every game and is ably assisted by Fred Murphy's beautiful photography and Jerry Goldsmith's extraordinary score, a mix of electronic and strong orchestral elements. The film has an extremely emotional build and powers along like a steam train. Hackman, a long way from fine work such as "Prime Cut" and "The Hunting Party", is simply ultra-solid and commanding. A marvellous film about being given chances. I suggest you give it one, too.
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classic movie!
cookcasey4 June 2005
This is one of the greatest movies ever. If you don't know how important basketball is in Indiana just watch the movie and you will find out quickly. This is such a true movie and it does a great job describing the feeling you get during basketball season in Indiana. This movie is a great movie for the entire family. There is no sex no violence and no foul language and it gives everyone a great warm feeling. The actors do a great job of making you feel like it really was filmed in the 1950's. This is a must see for everyone not just basketball fans. It shows you that it's not always the big schools that win championships and it gives hope to every small school and every underdog.
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Best basketball movie ever made
arthurclay4 May 2005
I have seen it more times than southern people have been UFO's. It's a true story of a basketball coach who led his little high school basketball team to victory against all odds. Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) is a former college basketball coach of the Ithaca Warriors who turns up in French Lick, Indiana to coach their local high school basketball team. He has a checkered past and a history of causing trouble. Right off the bat he gets into it with Barbara Hershey who is a teacher who becomes acting principal when the former one has a heart attack. Hershey doesn't like Dale at first but gradually warms up and becomes his ardent supporter and romantic interest. The townspeople don't like the Coach at all either and try to get him fired to no avail. But Dale has a recipe for success and it shows quickly when his team keeps winning and winning. I must say all the performances are terrific the best being Hackman and Dennis Hopper in his best role as Shooter, an alcoholic dad of one of the players who loves and knows basketball better than anyone and who Hackman recruits as assistant coach. Hopper is pure magic and it's touching to watch him with Hackman as Dale cares about him and won't give up on him. If you haven't ever watched this one do so it's an inspiration.
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Hard To Take Seriously.
Robert J. Maxwell5 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
It's 1951 and Gene Hackman is an ex basketball coach who has spent the war years and then some in the Navy. He's hired by a small-town high school in rural Indiana to care for their team. The team members are a little self satisfied, having been runners up in some small-time contest a few years ago. Hackman finds the town unfriendly. They liked their last coach and resent him. He brings new ideas to the game -- no more zone defense but rather man-on-man. But he's determined to see these boys whipped into shape and win Big Time.

I ask you, the discerning viewer, does he succeed? Barbara Hershey is a teacher hostile to Hackman. Does he win her over? Dennis Hopper is a disgusting drunk but he knows everything about the local teams and how they play basketball. Does Hackman hire him as Assistant Coach? Does Hopper overcome his demons? Is Hackman fired by the town but saved at the last minute by a revelation of some sort? Does he improve the team's spirit. Does he make them want to fight like dogs? Does this get them to the Big Tournament at the state capitol? Does the music on the sound track swell with triumphant fanfares? Are you kidding? I couldn't predict all of the obstacles that would crop up in the screenplay but, once presented with them, pretty much knew exactly how they'd be solved.

Maybe part of the reason I found it so tiresome is that I'm not a fan of basketball. But I don't follow baseball either and always enjoy "The Natural." And I'm a lousy pool shooter but think "The Hustler" is a near masterpiece.

On the plus side, the cinematography by Fred Murphy is very good indeed, and so is the location shooting. When the distracted Hackman first arrives in Hickory, Indiana, it LOOKS like the beginning of school in September. It's misty, people's breath steams, the ground is littered with tannic leaves. And, as the season progresses, the branches become bare and patches of snow appear in the shadows. If you were driven to find a small farming community dominated by an over-sized white church and an elderly brick high school, you'd want to come here.

But how is it possible to take any of this seriously, as the writer and director seem to expect us to? It's a heart-warming write-by-the-numbers story of dispiritedness turning to success. It seems to be aimed at the kind of audience represented by the gangly pituitary cases we watch on the court. The harder you pray, the harder you play.

Ho hum.
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corn-fed inspiration
Michael Neumann27 November 2010
Critics compared it to 'Rocky', but this hackneyed inspirational drama actually looks and sounds more like 'The Natural', trading an enduring baseball myth for the fairy tale of small town high school basketball. Never mind the competitive spirit: the film is more a celebration of spacious skies and amber waves of grain, with hard luck coach Gene Hackman leading his undisciplined team to the Indiana State championship, bullying his way into the hearts of taciturn, conservative farm community where the game is regarded almost as a religion. The outcome of every match up is never in doubt; no matter how far behind they may be, the Hickory Hucksters always manage to find themselves with a tie score just before the final buzzer. But the music-and-montage approach to the sport flattens the genuine mania and suspense generated on a high school basketball court. Every cliché, from the triumphant music fanfares to the slow motion, game winning jump shots to the exultant crowd scenes, is as familiar as an old pair of gym sneakers, which is sure to be a reassuring comfort to some viewers. But to others it may simply mean the time has come to buy a new pair of shoes.
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A classic tale of triumph and redemption , being based on a true story
ma-cortes4 February 2013
Sport film with sentimental story and intelligent character studio . Classic story rings true because of Hackman's complex and sensitive acting and stunningly realized by director David Anspaugh . Exceptional Gene Hackman who gets a chance job coaching a little town , displaying a first rate performance reaching an important milestone and a terrific Dennis Hooper . It is set in Indiana where basketball is the sport of the Gods , a small town called Hickery ; there a high school basketball team gets an opportunity , thanks to supposedly experienced coach . A coach (Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson was the original choice to play Coach Norman Dale) with a checkered past and a local alcoholic (Dennis Hooper) train a small town high school basketball team to become a top contender for the championship . The coach makes the team and each person in it , better than they thought possible . The physically unsuitable team to achieve for big time , thanks to the coach who triumphs over by odds , but sheer determination helps them attain their dream . The team dreams of playing basketball final , no matter how far-fetched the dream .

This agreeable tale based on the 1954 Indiana State champs, Milan Indians , contains a classic plot and deals about a slice of American history , and is plenty of good feeling , heartfelt, interesting characters and formidable performances . However , sometimes is some sentimental and predictable but is still pretty amusing . Likable and enjoyable plot about a team and the coach , both of them face the dual challenge of bringing the players to the state championship and redeeming themselves . Splendid film from the filmmaker and writer of another David beats Goliath sports movie , ¨Rudy¨ with Sean Astin .Sentimental plot stretches Hollywood manipulation , but is still entertaining . Gene Hackman delivers an engaging acting as is backed by a good supporting cast such as Barbara Hershey , Whooley , Sassone and Chelcie Roos . Hackman is coupled with Dennis Hooper's touching portrait of a drunk basketball fanatic . Spectacular and sensitive musical score by the great Jerry Goldsmith , though composed by means of synthesizer . Fine production design and good sets , filmmakers had trouble filling the FieldHouse with extras for the final game, and needed to move people around when shooting different angles ; extras were given 1950's hairstyles and their clothing was checked for anachronisms . The motion picture was compellingly directed by David Anspaugh , he's a notorious writer , producer and director (Wisegirls , Fresh horses , Moonlight and Valentino). Rating : Better than average , worthwhile seeing and it ranked #4 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Sports" in June 2008.
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ESPN was right
hawaiihogues10 August 2004
ESPN was absolutely correct in rating Hoosiers as the number one sports movie of the last 25 years. Every time it's on cable, no matter where it is in the movie, I'm captivated all over again. The basketball scenes are realistic, the characters are compelling, and the music is the best accompanying score of any movie in its genre. Hoosiers is truly #1.

In my spare time, I'm a basketball coach, and I always use Hoosiers as a way to get psyched up for the season, or for a big game. Despite the fact that the style of play is from the early '50's, today's players relate to it. It's as close to the perfect sports movie as you can come.
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A winner anyway you look at it
hnt_dnl1 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
What's the best sports film of all time, you ask? Well, it's debatable, but I'd rank HOOSIERS high up there. Coming out in 1986 (the dated decade!), HOOSIERS still holds up remarkably well thanks to really great cinematography and set design. It really looks and feels like 1950s Indiana, even today. Without overdoing the period piece aspect and focusing on small town life and hometown values, HOOSIERS is a top-notch movie. In particular, the film is incredibly fast-paced.

All credit goes to the great Gene Hackman, who plays dejected, displaced, and disgraced Coach Norman Dale from a big-time college program, who must take a downgraded high school coaching position as head coach at Hickory High School, the Huskers. Hackman exudes credibility as a no-nonsense, firm, yet sensitive man at the crossroads of his coaching career and his life. This actor could do it all by just being himself! Coach Dale arrives in the small town of Hickory, Indiana circa 1951 and immediately faces disdain and uncertainty upon his arrival. The small towners see him as a big-city guy who looks down on them and won't fit in. The locals question his coaching tactics and even challenge his authority directly at times. But Dale sticks to his guns and instills discipline and toughness into the promising basketball team. In particular, Dale shows particular interest in Jimmy Chitwood, a pure shooting guard who at first is not on the team, but then decides to re-join them on the condition that Coach Dale stays.

Dale also has an initially rocky relationship with local Myra Fleener (well played by Barbara Hershey), who isn't very crazy about basketball and thinks education is more important. Best Supporting Actor nominee Dennis Hopper plays town drunk Shooter, whose son is on the team. Hopper almost steals the show, but I still think this film belongs completely to Hackman, especially with 20+ years of hindsight.

Special mention should also go to the young men who played the Hickory Huskers. Really a band of unknowns who I don't think any have become famous since this film, the fact that real teens (and basketball players) played these characters helps make HOOSIERS all the more authentic.

Of course, you have the obligatory happy ending, but it all fits into this gem of a sports film. Really, it doesn't get much better than HOOSIERS!
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"Well, we're way past big speech time."
rhinocerosfive-125 November 2007
Warning: Spoilers
This is a sweet, gentle fairy tale, full of nice writing and subtle performances. The good kind of sports movie, it mostly allows the game to serve as a tool of the story. If the end is not difficult to guess, still it is a thrilling emotional journey. This is quite a trick with a handful of clichés as your plot points; but pros can pull it off, and there are many jobs well done on this production.

The photography is in a lovely muted palette, and the design is exquisite. The Midwestern landscape has rarely been quite so Norman Rockwelled by a movie. The games look like old Life Magazine Ektachrome prints come to life. The town and especially the school are straight out of the American collective memory.

Barbara Hershey is complex and fascinating; the ball players break your heart; Gene Hackman wisely does not try to be likable, instead bleeding loss and hope from his scuffed leather jacket. My dad always liked Dennis Hopper as a wasted father figure - "Rumble Fish," "True Romance," "River's Edge," this - so it's hard for me to fault "Hoosiers" for trading shamelessly on the inherent melodrama of the situation. The relationships are economically revealed, conservatively developed, and satisfyingly hokey without very often becoming unlikely.

There are only two things really wrong. One is the "Airwolf" synthesizer score that crashes in the 50s heartland like a flying saucer on crack. Two is the equally dated easy-out of a series of montages instead of a third act. Come on. That's using condiments as food. Because of this hurry, several scenes in the second hour are more scaffolding than story.

But when it's good it's very good, which is most of the time; more often, I think, than David Anspaugh's other Sports Underdog Who Achieves Momentary Greatness movie. I mean "Rudy," not "The Game of Their Lives," which I'm not likely to see because I'm an American and could care less about real football.
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The Great American Movie?
carlglover18 November 2007
When this film came out in 1986, my 5-year-old son Jeff was absolutely determined to see it -- and on the first day of release, at that. He had read about it and seen the trailer on TV, and wouldn't take "no" for an answer. So, I relented, took that Friday afternoon off, and we went to the theater for the first showing.

Just as the title credits started to roll, with Gene Hackman driving through the early autumn Indiana countryside toward his date with Destiny, Jeff laid his head on my shoulder and promptly went to sleep -- and slept throughout the entire film. He had apparently gotten so excited over the prospect of seeing the movie that exhaustion overcame him, as it will with children. I didn't have the heart to wake him up, since I knew we could come back again -- and by the time the movie was over, I knew that I would indeed be seeing it again...and again, because it was plainly one of the all-time greats. It was the best sports movie I had seen up until that time, and it still is. In fact, it has legitimate claim as the best American movie ever. It incorporates all that is unique and good in American culture, and does it better than any other film has ever done. It is a magnificent artistic achievement, quintessentially American and an inspiration to everyone who sees it.

Jeff forgave me for not waking him up -- but not before we went back the very next day. He immediately agreed with me on its greatness. Every time he comes home now, we watch it together, and marvel at its perfection. He has become something of an expert on artistic values (Ph.D. in literature from Yale), but even at the age of 5 he could see that this movie was truly something special. And that it certainly is.
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A "perfect" feel-good movie
caa8215 November 2006
This site shows this movie to have about the normal number of "goofs" (here, all minor) - but its "perfection" is in the fact that this is an interesting, truly uplifting story, with warm characters, outstanding performances, and an appeal to everyone, whatever sex, age, background - and equally for those who know and/or care little for the game of basketball.

There isn't a finer actor around than Gene Hackman, and Dennis Hopper is in the same league. All of the rest of the cast perform admirably, also.

With the film now 20-years-old, since it depicted events in the 1950's, 30 years prior, it is just as fresh, and even a bit more nostalgic now than when originally released.

(An interesting fact to note if you watch the film again: the actor playing Jimmy, the team's super-stat, while athletic, had not been a basket-baller in real life; whereas the shorter young man playing the team's "scrub," was the best in reality, and had to "act" to appear less-talented than he was.)
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Perfect 10!
stacieb7531 January 2005
This film is a classic! What more can you say about Gene Hackman but pure brilliance in "Hoosiers." The story line is one that perfectly depicts not only small-town and rural life, but small-town and rural attitudes. Having grown up in a rural area near a town of 300 people, I can tell you that this movie accurately depicts life in a small-town even in 2005! Sure, the cars and buildings have changed since the story of "Hoosiers" took place, but the values and the sense of community have not. Perhaps that is the greatest lesson in this movie - that community is something to be proud of and participate in. Having moved to a large city, I miss the Friday nights where the entire town shuts down to go to the high school ball games, I miss the Saturday mornings spent discussing the games, and the rest of the week preparing for the next game. I miss the anticipation of meeting up with friends, young and old, over a good game on the hardwood while cheering on the hometown team. But I also can tell you that the way Norman Dale was treated as an outsider is absolutely true. If you are not from a small-town or born and raised there, prepare to spend a considerable amount of time proving yourself. While the sense of community is bold, breaking into that community isn't as easy. It takes someone of bold character, thick skin and determination to break into that community - but like Norman Dale, once you do, you too can become the hometown hero!
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Hackman is great as always
allar10012 April 2003
Gene Hackman is a fantastic actor who has not become a cartoon version of himself like DeNiro and Pacino has. Neither of those guys try anymore, they just be themselves, and everybody loves them for it. Hackman on the other hand always hand in a good and often varied performance (see Unforgiven, Crimson Tide, Hoosiers) that has me belive that he is the character he is playing, and not just Gene Hackman. Anyway, this movie was pretty good, even the simple basketball games have you cheering for the small town Indiana team. Dennis Hopper turns in a great performance as a drunk (I'm not so sure it was a performance though) that wants to redeem himself in the eyes of his son, and isn't sure he can handle it. Good flick to watch if you can't decide on anything else at the video store.
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Hackman at his best!
Kee-227 October 1998
One can not watch this movie and dislike it. The cast, scenery and story is outstanding. A true "David and Goliath" that touched me inside in a way comparable with Stallones masterpiece "Rocky". This is Drama at a high level.
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A strong, feel-good movie
kergillian14 June 2001
This film is entertaining, well-written, and definitely one that will get you cheering for the team! The down-side is that it's at times melodramatic and overly-tear-jerking and uses almost every sentimental cliche ever written at least once. While there are some great lines ('God wants you on the floor, son') there are also some *horribly* cliched lines as well ('I've wanted to kiss you since the moment we first met!')

Gene Hackman is fabulous in this, as the former college coach turned Navyman who comes to small town Hickory, IA to coach basketball. And being from Bloomington, I can vouch for the frenzied obsession we of Indiana have for basketball;), so it was no surprise to see how unwelcome he was in town with unorthodox methods and bing an outsider as well (always a good kicker for a plot). Add the loss of then best player in town, who decides not to play ball that year, and the challenge is on!

But the plot slips away too much at times. The Dennis Hopper as an alcoholic former basketball star who is given a chance to be an assistant if he cleans up plotline could have been interesting; but his 'agonized' moments on the floor dragged on too much, and the plot turned sour when he relapsed, and was eventually discarded and never resolved properly (save for a sloppy and cheezy heartstrings moment where his son declares that they'll move in together when it's all over, -snif-snif-snif-). As well, the shameless and worthless attempt to inject romance into the film stuttered and failed...Barbara Hershey playing a colleague who the coach gets off on the wrong foot with and then falls for, is too typical and rated barely a glimpse or two in the overall story. Why bother?? It was a subplot that had absolutely nothing to do with the story, hardly had any screen time, and was never properly dealt with. It was just wasted screen time.

Still, the film as a whole is worth the cheeziness of some parts. The ending is predictable, but in a heart-swelling way. Sure, some of the scenes are a bit too long and jerking, but in the end it doesn't matter because it just feels right. It's handled as well as possible, considering it has to be Hollywood, even in little Hickory. A solid film, could have been better, but not by too much. 7/10.
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