'The Miracle Match'
(Gerard Butler, Wes Bentley, et al / DVD / PG / (2003) 2006 / BVHE)
Overview: Based on a true story, this film tells the tale of the 1950 US soccer team who, against all odds, beat England 1 - 0 in the city of Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Although no US team has ever won a World Cup title, this story is about the family traditions and passions which shaped the lives of the players who made up this team of underdogs.
DVD Verdict: 'The Miracle Match' (aka 'The Game Of Their Lives') is a very good movie. But, it was a very good movie that I think could've been a great movie. There really isn't any need for spoilers because it is a sports movie - and sports movies have happy, victorious endings about 99% of the time. But this story isn't really about the ending - which any viewer could predict - it is more about a team coming together at the last minute and working to form cohesion and camaraderie while facing unbeatable odds. When the US World Cup team was formed, it was mainly comprised of 2 groups, the players from St. Louis' "Hill" and the "East Coasters." A lot of these men had played soccer well, but not professionally. They were men with other jobs like a mailman, undertakers, and a dish washer. The 2 groups had different styles to overcome and each had its own leader: Frank Borghi (Gerard Butler) led the men from the Hill and Walter Bahr (Wes Bentley) led the East Coasters. I really enjoyed these two characters. The film did an excellent job of showing their effort to create a sense of team spirit in a very limited amount of time. There are plenty of colorful characters in the film, which strengthened the point of how they were all plucked from their lives for a mere 3 weeks to head down to Brazil and play their hearts out. There was Pee Wallace (who is afraid to fly) and Gino Pariani - who are known as a lethal combo on the field or "pitch." There's Charlie Colombo and Joe Gatjaens--Charlie who wears gloves for every game and Joe - a Haitian - who turns cartwheels and shows infectious optimism. There's Harry Keough, the young mailman learning Spanish at home so he can converse with his girlfriend. Many of these men were veterans. Many of them had been awarded during the service and several had had psychological after effects from WWII. Perhaps it was because of having served their country in that capacity that they felt the patriotism necessary to give their game that extra "umph." The film gives you just enough of their personal lives to get to know them and spends the majority of its time on the team after it has been formed but before the legendary game. The ending is somewhat abrupt - I felt - in that the second the game is over, so is the movie. You get the obligatory reintroduction of the characters by showing the actual men (now aged and few) who were on the team, but I wish there had been something - even a paragraph that appeared on the screen - that gave the audience some closure with these players with which we had invested the last 90 minutes. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.40:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of just Subtitles in both French and Spanish.