Do you believe in miracles? Do you root for the underdog? Hoosiers, a true story, takes place in the small, farming town of Hickory, Indiana where the townspeople follow their high school basketball team, the Hickory Huskers. In past years, they succeeded, but with the death of the coach, the town's superstar, Jimmy Chitwood, turned in his uniform. A former college coach, Norman Dale (Gene Hackman), comes to town to coach them. Dale last coached at Utica College, but left because he struck one of his players in the heat of an argument. Dale introduces his new playing style to the Huskers, much to the dismay of the townspeople. After nearly losing his job, the team begins to come around and win. However, he once again shakes up the town by appointing an ex-hoops star who became the town drunk, Shooter Flidge (Dennis Hopper), as his assistant coach. This film, directed by David Anspaugh, appeals to all viewers, especially hoop junkies because of its excellent acting performances, its gripping plot and its appeal to fans of all movie genres.
The star-studded cast includes Gene Hackman who superbly plays the role of Norman Dale and of the hard-nosed coach who refused to stop believing and aiming high. Next, Dennis Hopper, Academy Award nominee, also plays a convincing role as a drunk and his relationship with his son (who also plays on the Huskers' team) provides for an interesting sub-plot. Finally, there's Myra Hillman, played by Barbara Hershey, who teaches at Hickory High. Because of these (as well as others), this film is commendable for its excellent acting.
This movie could fit into many different genres and therefore appeals to many viewers, not just sports nuts. Probably most viewers see Hoosiers as a biography, but it is seen as a biography not only of Dale, but of his team. It is also a biography of the town of Hickory, Indiana. The movie demonstrates how the people of Hickory live, farm, and love the game of basketball. The outcome of the team's games and season affects every one of them because of their great love of the game. This movie could even fit into the genre of a "stand up and cheer" movie. You will have to feel the electricity and energy.
I would recommend it to all audiences because of the acting, theme and its universal appeal. To anyone who is a basketball junkie or refuses to believe in miracles, I recommend this movie. Each time you watch it, it is worth the time as the energy electrifies you and you become enveloped by the story. .
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.