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The Miracle Season – Movie Review

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The Miracle Season – Movie Review

Rating: B- (Okay)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy Elevation Pictures

This is the kind of film one can’t feel snooty towards, even if it deserves it. The Miracle Season definitely has its heart in the right place as it tells the true story of a volleyball team dealing with a personal loss. There is a lot of sympathy towards these girls and director Sean McNamara handles the sports scenes with the proper level of energy. It’s almost surprising Disney didn’t produce this film as it is the vein of the inspirational sports films they had been making over the past couple of years. Occasionally, McNamara does let the Hollywood filmmaking take over and the film does try hard to pull the heartstrings. The best reason for this film to exist is to bring more awareness to this volleyball team’s story, which does merit telling.

When The Miracle Season starts, the quality of the direction and writing is concerning. McNamara has a background in directing Disney Channel series and direct-to-video children’s sequels and this is most evident early on. The photography has a fake sheen to it, the dialogue between the teenage volleyball players is corny and the acting leaves a little to be desired. Those first twenty minutes set off the wrong tone for this sort of movie and nothing feels genuine. After the central tragedy of Caroline Found’s unfortunate death happens, that’s when the direction becomes a bit more subtle and there is an attempt to show the difficult emotional feelings the characters are processing. There is particularly a lot of sympathy towards her father, played in a touching performance by William Hurt.

The sports scenes are decently directed, even if we know the ultimate outcome and the pitfalls commonly featured in these sorts of films. The game portions are well edited and McNamara manages to make them work, even for those not interested in volleyball. The movie tries its best to give the proper development to each team member, but most of the players are indistinguishable from one another. The new team captain Kelly has the most development and thus she’s the only girl given her own personality. The filmmakers do feel the need to also give her a love interest, which adds nothing to the story or her character progression.

There are also the expected inspirational speeches that appear every ten minutes and an unusual scene set to Katy Petty’s “Roar.” Helen Hunt might have the trickiest role to play as the coach who has hide her emotions, even as she understands and relates to the difficulty her team is facing. We do ultimately grow a rooting interest for the team to succeed and the film does make it clear how important Caroline was to them. The Miracle Season is genuinely heartfelt and provides the proper context for those previously unfamiliar with this story. One of the best things the movie does is show real footage of Caroline Found and the Iowa City West volleyball team during the end credits.

While The Miracle Season certainly has its fair share of cheesy moments and it can’t help but Hollywoodise certain aspects of the real story it’s telling, it’s clear there was a genuine attempt to portray the gravitas of the situation. Even as it occasionally falls into Disney Channel Original Movie tropes, there is definitely respect for what these girls and Found’s father had to deal with. Some people will definitely get an emotional reaction out of it and it’s not a bad viewing for families to take in. Even with its faults, The Miracle Season is a commendable effort that just slightly misses the ball.

 

Stefan Ellison
THE SCENE

Stefan Ellison