I found this movie utterly predictable and Dennis Hopper's performance as the town drunk only tolerable. Gene Hackman is the new high school basketball coach in basketball crazy Hickory, Indiana in 1951. He is a man with a past, although it is not as dark as it initially appears. Hopper plays Shooter, the town drunk whose son is on the seven man team. Despite his sodden brain, Shooter has a superb understanding of the game and Hackman selects him to be his assistant coach. You know immediately that Shooter is going to sober up and become a real coach. The scenes where Hackman is thrown out of the game and Shooter must take over are forced and unrealistic; Hopper is unconvincing as a person stressed out over the combination of alcohol withdrawal and having to take charge. Even the scene when Hackman is attending a town meeting where the purpose is to decide whether he should be fired lacks a great deal of tension. It is not out of the apparent politeness of the townspeople, there is a lack of passion among all participants. This is supposed to be a town passionate about basketball and a coach passionate about the game. I was bored throughout the entire movie and struggled to watch it through to the end.
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Charles Ashbacher (CharlesAshbacher)
Charlie Ashbacher is a compulsive reader and writer about many subjects. His prime areas of expertise are in mathematics and computers where he has taught every course in the mathematics and computer … more
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One of the most rousingly enjoyable sports movies ever made, this small-town drama tells the story of the Hickory Huskers, an underdog basketball team from a tiny Indiana high school that makes it all the way to the state championship tournament. It's a familiar story, but sensitive direction and a splendid screenplay helped make this one of the best films of 1986, highlighted by the superb performances of Gene Hackman as the Huskers' coach, and Oscar nominee Dennis Hopper as the alcoholic father of one of the team's key players. As the drama unfolds we come to realize that many of the characters (including Barbara Hershey as a schoolteacher with whom Hackman falls in love) are recovering from disappointing setbacks, and this depth of character is what makes the otherwise conventional basketball story so richly rewarding. LikeRocky,Rudy,andBreaking Away, this is a quintessentially American movie about beating the odds and rising above one's own limitations. Just try to watch it without cheering!--Jeff Shannon