In the late 80s early 90s, my dad and I started filling out March Madness Brackets and entering them into a pool where he worked at the local brotherhood of electricians bureau.
He and I never won, but we had fun filling the bracket out, talking strategy, and picking the underdogs we wanted to win.
From an NBA perspective, I remember watching the L. A. Lakers and the Boston Celtics playing in the finals throughout the 80s.
Sports was another thing that my father and I enjoyed doing together. I don’t think he missed more than a handful of my soccer games my entire life, including college.
The same joy a father has watching his sons play or a son having his dad there at a game, is the kind of joy that exudes from every pore of David Anspaugh‘s “Hoosiers.”
There are a lot of great “sports” movies. “Bull Durham,” “The Natural,” “Rudy” (also by Anspaugh), “The Longest Yard,” etc. “Hoosiers” stands well above the rest of them. I remember us (my dad, mom, me, and my little brother) watching it two days in a row when we rented it. That’s not something that we did together consistently unless ALL of us were really excited about a movie. “Hoosiers” was one of those movies.
The “based on a true story” element is what makes this movie so great. If this were a made-up Hollywood script, we’d be annoyed with the cliche ending. There is something about the underdog story that compels me to excitement, and when it can happen for real, well that just gives everyone in America hope.
We start off with a gruff coach in a small town. The town does not want to embrace his philosophy for the local High School Basketball team.
I have talked about Alec Guinness quite possibly being my favorite actor of all time. Gene Hackman is 1B.
I can’t think of a line that he has delivered on film that I didn’t feel he believed as the character he portrayed. His subtleties with voice inflection and expression give us a lot of communication–while still being very small on the screen. Making that look easy is why actors like Guinness and Hackman become film legends. If anyone has seen themselves on tv, be it a home video or the like, it is very easy to tell how “big” your expressions become when the camera is rolling. The camera doesn’t miss a lot. Hackman is very controlled, even when the script requires him shouting to his team from the sideline, or when he needs to coach a kid on the bench.
I know that I have not talked about the movie that much. I am doing that on purpose. For those of you that read this blog and have not seen it yet, I’d jump “Hoosiers” to the top of your list. There are great performances from Hackman (as always), Dennis Hopper (who got himself an Oscar nomination for that role), and Barbara Hershey (a woman that I feel is very underrated in terms of the roles she has portrayed on screen–check out her filmography. She’s really good–a favorite of mine is “The Stunt Man“).
I dare you not to have an emotional reaction to the ending of this film.