MGM Home Entertainment -
1986 - 115
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Before today´┐Żs era of rampant free agency in professional sports with inflated player egos, bloated ticket prices, and ridiculous salaries, there was a simpler time in modern athletics. Hoosiers takes us back to the early 50´┐Żs to tell the story of a tiny high school in Hickory, Indiana. Hickory´┐Żs basketball coach has recently died, and the small town team is looking for a new skipper. Enter ´┐Żseasoned´┐Ż basketball coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) to somehow attempt to fill the apparently very large shoes of the old coach. An experienced college coach who has just been out of the game for a while, he brings his very distinct coaching methods to one of the smallest gyms in the state. Greeted by what could only be deemed a chilly reception from everyone including fellow teachers and parents alike, coach Dale certainly has his work cut out for him right from the start.
Coach Dale's word on the basketball court is law.
First, he has one of the smallest varsity squads ever assembled, starting with a not-so-impressive roster of only 6 players. Having only 64 boys total at the school, pickings are extremely slim. Additionally, the school´┐Żs (and possibly the state´┐Żs) best player Jimmy Chitwood has refused to play since his old coach passed. Compound that further by the fact that his players don´┐Żt agree with his methodology and the townsfolk think even less of him. Practically run out of town on a rail, supporters are few and far between in Hickory. Jimmy´┐Żs neighbor and Hickory teacher Myra Fleener (Barbara Hershey) is convinced that the big-city coach is up to no good, and will certainly try to coax the reluctant star player out of retirement. His only support initially comes from the principal who is an old friend of his, and the town drunk Wilbur 'Shooter' Flatch (Dennis Hopper).
With a fan club that doesn´┐Żt have enough supporters to play a decent game of Chinese checkers, the coach´┐Żs days seem to be almost certainly numbered. The residents of Hickory actually arrange a meeting where enough votes were gathered to dismiss the hopelessly outnumbered coach. Only after some unexpected kind words from Myra and Jimmy´┐Żs agreement to play only if coach Dale stays does our protagonist catch a break. After this turning point, we follow the coach and the team on their quest for the state championship. The team´┐Żs chemistry improves, as do some of the other personal relationships, most notably between coach Dale and Myra and between ´┐ŻShooter´┐Ż and his son, who happens to be on the team.
With such colorful opponents along the way as Oolitic, Dugger, and Terhune, those boys from Hickory don´┐Żt seem to care that they are playing above their heads. Not a movie that is going to throw you too many around the back passes, Hoosiers is one of those films that has you rooting for our boys from the opening tip. The basketball scenes aren´┐Żt going to dazzle you with 360-degree dunks or Harlem Globetrotter-like antics, but they serve the purpose of getting you to root for old Hickory. Before whiny overpaid athletes coined arrogant phrases like ´┐Żgive me the damn ball´┐Ż, good ole´┐Ż boys like Jimmy Chitwood simply said ´┐ŻI´┐Żll make it.´┐Ż A director who would go on to make another terrific ´┐Żunderdog´┐Ż movie in Rudy, David Anspaugh does a fine job with basketball before he moves on to football.
For an older movie, I wasn´┐Żt expecting a reference quality video transfer. While not a dumpster of a display, the video did nothing to really astound me. While the presentation was fairly successful at not looking too dated (unless of course you count those ridiculous shorts), the realistic flesh tones are about the only item of note. The low light scenes were a bit gloomy, and the colors were nothing remarkable. Though I wouldn´┐Żt go so far as to call the colors drab, they were definitely a little flat. Some of the more drastic uniforms like the neon orange of the Linton team could have certainly done a little bit more for me. Again, it´┐Żs not a real bummer, just not a real hummer either.
I was happy to see that this one was a 5.1 transfer. Again, I wasn´┐Żt expecting a whole lot from a movie of this age, and I was fairly pleased with what I got. Though the center is unremarkable, it did convey the voices accurately, even though they were a little plain and muted at times. The fronts demonstrated acceptable right/left separation with some atmosphere effects paying decent dividends. The rear speakers were fairly quiet, chipping in with musical support and the occasional reverb effect. This isn´┐Żt exactly the kind of movie that one would anticipate being a real winner in the audio department, and that person would be correct.
If I were to leave this section of the review completely blank with nothing but a few carriage returns, it would be as lacking in substance as this DVD was. When the theatrical trailer is your big draw on the disc, you may have a problem. Well, Hickory, we have a problem. Outside of the trailer, your staggering choices are Play, Scene Selections, and Languages. Yeah, it´┐Żs not exactly worth mentioning.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although the movie itself was even better than I remember, the DVD falls a bit short. When a standard DVD insert gets billed as a ´┐ŻCollectible Booklet´┐Ż and the ´┐ŻOriginal Theatrical Trailer´┐Ż is your other big attraction, you´┐Żre not exactly going to get the non-fanatics to grab this one.
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