Hoosiers Blu-ray Review
HOOSIERS is the perfect movie to get you in the spirit of going back to school. You can almost feel the damp, fall weather when Gene Hackman drives through the orange and yellow tree lined streets of Indiana’s small towns. Pull on your letterman sweater and breathe in the crisp autumn air that has a hint of burning leaves and get ready for a nostalgic look at high school basketball.
In 1951, Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) moved to Hickory,Indiana to take on the task of being the small town’s high school basketball coach. Despite having 10 years college basketball coaching experience followed by 12 years Navy service, this small town is hesitant to accept this outsider as the new coach, with new ideas and coaching methods. With only six players on the team and the star player refusing to play due to personal reasons, Coach Dale has his work cut for him to produce results.
Loosely based on a true David and Goliath high school state basketball championship game, I enjoyed the adaptation and the back story that led to this all important finale. Combined with a simple basketball season, the performances in this film are what makes this picture great. As a coach who follows his own playbook, Gene Hackman did a great job. As the newcomer; his friendly yet stern voice commanded the court. Getting thrown out of most every game, you couldn’t help but get caught up in the passion he had for his team and his love for the sport. Watching Dennis Hopper’s character struggle between being a down on his luck basketball loving alcoholic to a timid suit wearing assistant coach was one of the best transformations in this film. Seeing Everett react to his father’s growth in this picture is almost as emotional as the winning season. The entire supporting cast of players did a great job and I get goosebumps every time I watch the scene at the Town Hall meeting. The moment Jimmy says it is time for him to start playing basketball again…only with Coach Dale leading the team make me grin like a fool.
Things that didn’t quite work for me were the moments between Barbara Hershey and Gene Hackman. He is charming while she is sour, but you never quite feel that if they could put their differences aside that they’d be perfect for each other. So when they finally embrace, it doesn’t feel natural, rather it feels forced and out of the blue. Having said that, I do like their banter in the scenes after they connect romantically (when she yells “it’s a good question” as news reporters ask if Coach Dale will be staying in Hickory for next season). She finally lightens up and seems like a school girl herself, instead of the buttoned-up strict teacher she portrayed for most of the film.
The basketball season progresses quickly, not quite matching the steady even pacing of the film. This is not a huge critique on this picture, rather, the momentum of the games helped propel the story without getting lost in the moments off the court.
HOOSIERS is a basketball classic and a great underdog film.
Video (1.85:1): HOOSIERS Blu-ray transfer was well done, rarely a grainy moment or scene allowing you to appreciate the action on the court.
Audio (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1): The audio in HOOSIERS was decent, you could hear every speech and yelling moment perfectly.
Audio Commentary: This feature includes director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo sharing facts and information about HOOSIERS and their debut experience as filmmakers.
Hoosier History: The Truth Behind the Legend (29:48): This is a documentary about the history of Indiana basketball and the town/team that inspired this flick.
Deleted Scenes (31:13): Approximately 13 deleted scenes that feature an introduction by both director David Anspaugh and writer Angelo Pizzo. Wisely cut moments.
Milan vs. Muncie 1954 Indiana High School Championship Game (41:26): This is footage from the actual game that inspired HOOSIERS. You can see some of the same moments that made it into the big screen finale.