From the title on down to the story and performances “Miracle Season” is a film that trumpets its uplifting, inspirational point of view. The story may be rooted in tragedy but this is a tale of perseverance.
In 2011 the Iowa City West High School volleyball team were champions starting a new season. Team captain Caroline 'Line' Found (Danika Yarosh) is a popular student and daughter of the kindly Dr. Ernie Found (William Hurt). “She reached out to everyone,” says coach Kathy Bresnahan (Helen Hunt), “strangers, opponents teachers, even lowly Coach. To Line they all meant the same thing, friends.” When Line is killed in an accident the team, especially best friend Kelly (Erin Moriarty), must work through their grief if they want to “Live Like Line” and take the state championship.
“Miracle Season” is exactly what you think it will be, a respectful movie that wears its heart on its sleeve. There’s barely a rough edge here anywhere, except in the underwritten script. Characters are inherently decent, inspired to be better people by the memory of their late friend. Good messages all round but it doesn’t really make for great drama. The spectre of Hallmark hangs heavy over every scene.
What’s left is Oscar winner Hunt as the tough love coach pumping her fist, mouthing the word “yes” as her team gains confidence on the court and lots of talk about winning for Line. Director Sean McNamara, who mined similar territory with Hunt in the film “Soul Surfer,” is unafraid to pluck heartstrings, often steering the story into motivational melodrama. It’s likely some tears will be wrung from the easy emotion on display, but “Miracle Season,” for all its good intentions, is a simply a generic sports movie.