I have no clever seque. Been getting this trailer a lot. That’s about it. Oh, and I’m not familiar with the true events this is based on. Rest in peace, Caroline Found.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Erin Moriarty (WITHIN , CAPTAIN FANTASTIC , TV show JESSICA JONES [2015 – ongoing], and upcoming films THE EXTRAORDINARY JOURNEY OF THE FAKIR  and DRIVEN ), Danika Yarosh (JACK REACHER 2 , and the upcoming BACK ROADS ), Helen Hunt (SOUL SURFER , CAST AWAY , and TWISTER ), William Hurt (CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR , HISTORY OF VIOLENCE , LOST IN SPACE , and upcoming films THE KING’S DAUGHTER  and THE LAST FULL MEASURE ), and Ava Grace Cooper (THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Sean McNamara, known for SOUL SURFER, BRATZ (2007), many of the Baby Geniuses movies, and upcoming films THE KING’S DAUGHTER (2018) and ORPHAN HORSE (2018). Co-writing the screenplay are David Aaron Cohen (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS , and upcoming films SPEED KILLS  and LEON URIS’ TRINITY ) and Elissa Matsueda (the upcoming DOG DAYS ). Composing the score is Roque Baños, known for THE COMMUTER (2018), DON’T BREATHE (2016), IN THE HEART OF THE SEA (2015), and upcoming films THE MAN WHO KILLED DON QUIXOTE (2018) and MIAMOR PERDIDO (2018). The cinematographer is Brian Pearson, known for INTO THE STORM (2014). Finally, the editor is Jeff Canavan, known for CLOCKSTOPPERS (2002), and upcoming films ORPHAN HORSE and INDIVISIBLE (2018).
Overall, this could be good, but then I see that the director is responsible for some truly awful films, kids films of all things, and to see him helming a serious project like this… I worry about the memory of this poor girl. The acting talent seems solid, but an actor is sometimes only as good as a scripts, so we’ll see. Personally, I think it’s going to be bad, but I’m hoping not. Also, someone fire the marketing department because the trailer basically gave away the entire movie in two minutes.
This is my honest opinion of: THE MIRACLE SEASON
Set in Iowa, circa 2011. Caroline “Line” Found (Danica Yarosh) and Kelley Fliehler (Erin Moriarty) have been best friends since they were kids. Today, they’re in West High School and are volleyball players who have previously been State champions. To celebrate becoming seniors and looking forward to a second go for the championship, Line throws a party for her team. However, she dies in a moped accident and the team is too disheartened to practice and play. Soon, their coach Kathy Bresnahan (Helen Hunt) chooses Kelley to inspire the girls to keep playing for Line as they all struggle to regain their footing.
I’m… conflicted. This will take some time to piece together, so here’s hoping my thoughts will unravel as I write.
The opening is… both very strong and not very strong. It’s closer to a Disney Channel original movie with WAY too much child-like whimsy, but honestly… I was kind of charmed by it. I did enjoy the friendship between Caroline and Kelley. And there was an infectious energy to Yarosh’s energized performance, though she was teetering on the verge of being more annoying than likable. But again, this is offset when Kathy comments that she hears an annoying voice in the back of her head. I won’t lie, I giggled a bit. Whether or not Caroline was that borderline annoying, who can say? I wager it was. You don’t get to be that much of a social butterfly without ruffling a few feathers. But seriously, some better direction was needed. Energy is great, but she seriously needed to tone it down a little. Letting Caroline cry because she’s facing the reality that her mom is dying and will likely die very soon is, believe it or not, okay. She doesn’t need to be a female version of Jesus. Human emotions are more relatable than someone trying to subvert them. Strength isn’t hiding true feelings, it’s about embracing them.
This actually does present me with the main problem that I have with the flick. Before I do, I want to make it clear, again. I am NO expert on Caroline Found, or the events depicted in this flick. With that said, let’s continue. I’ve read a mere two articles about the miracle season and already I feel like the emotional impact of Caroline’s death could have been pushed much further. In the movie, we get an energized girl who was friends with her team and her coach. The problem is, both articles seem to mention that Caroline may have been a popular girl, but she didn’t seem like she was in any cliques. She didn’t let anyone sit by themselves at lunch, she would even make friends with girls on the opposite teams, and even caused her own measure of troubles by ordering pizza while she was in detention. Yes, we get a scene where she ordered pizza, but it was in the locker room with her team. Yes, Kathy mentions that Caroline would make friends on the opposite team, but we never see her do that. It’s the age-old saying with film: show, don’t tell. It’s these real-world little moments that, in retrospect, I wish would have made it into the movie somehow. Yeah, I’m sure that would have caused pacing issues and made the film’s runtime a little longer than the studio would likely want, but this is about a girl who was so beloved by her friends, family, and peers, both in her school and rival schools, and more of her lovable actions should have taken center stage. Instead, it’s too condensed. Yes, the emotional impact of her death in the film reverberates very well throughout the flick. You feel the pain that these girls are going through to the point where you’d swear to God you weren’t watching a movie, but traveling back in time and watching these girls trying to process everything live. But wouldn’t it be a greater justice to Caroline’s memory by following her example by bending the rules? In this case, conventional Hollywood rules, taking the proper amount of time to tell her story, really let us get to know Caroline as well as any of the real-life girls did, therefore really letting her death pierce the hearts of the audience? We shouldn’t just be watching a movie, we should be right there on this emotional journey with these girls and… honestly, I just got a movie. A well done movie, make no mistake, but I think I got a better sense of who Caroline was in the articles that took me two minutes to read, rather than this near two hour flick. Links below if you want to check them out. They’re… actually just as good as the movie.
Also, pointless characters, like Ernie’s (William Hurt) church friend who only makes two appearances in the movie. “All the girls are looking to you,” really, Coach? We never got a moment where the girls were looking to Kelley for inspiration. Remember the Hollywood adage: show, don’t tell. Everyone’s depressed over their friend’s death. I’d say that’s reason enough to not want to go to practice. Also, really beginning to hate that song “Hey Mama” by… all those artists. I can’t go one damn year without hearing that thing.
Man, I’m just railing on this movie, aren’t I? I really wish I had just as much to say about the good aspects because, for the most part, I didn’t hate this movie. Let’s see what I can do.
Again, the performances are very good. I bought the friendship between Kelley and Caroline. I bought every single connection the characters made with each other. Father-daughter, mother-daughter, friends, teammates, coach, it was all very believable. Likewise, the emotions felt real. When Caroline dies, her passing leaves a severe impact and everyone seems to have a different reaction. There were some legitimately nice touches in that regard. I remember one girl breaking down crying in the middle of practice and one or two other girls went out with her.
One of my favorite scenes is actually between Kelley and Ernie. She goes to him confessing that she knew about the moped, her driving without a helmet, all that, and started listing off a bunch of “what ifs.” If she had stopped her from driving, essentially blaming herself for what happened. But Ernie doesn’t agree. He has his own longer list of “what ifs.” What if he got that stereo working, so the car wouldn’t have been needed, not forcing her to drive the moped, insisting that she stay during the party, all letting Kelley know that it wasn’t anyone’s fault.
I hate to cut it short here, but the most I can say about the movie is that I did get lost in the story. There was a good long while where I stopped taking notes about the movie and just sort of… watched. I was invested in the performances and the emotional gravity, so you’ll never hear me say that this was a bad movie, despite how much I talked about the negatives. But all of those positives really did carry the movie for me. I suppose if you wanted to be objective and just say if it’s a good movie, it’s basically a less good version of REMEMBER THE TITANS (2000). The patterns do seem to be there. A team that goes nearly an entire season winning every game, hell, that describes probably too many sports related films. But for me, this seemed more like a personal story about one young girl and the impact she had on her teammates and friends, and I think the movie does that very well, or well enough for my tastes. As a recommendation, yeah, I think it’s worth seeing. It’s not going to win Oscars or anything, but I guess I’m a sucker for personal stories rather than history lessons. I can certainly say that I’m glad I saw the movie. Could have been better, but it worked for me.
Before I give a rating, I want to go on record and say something. It’s probably eight years WAY too late, but here it goes anyway. Rest in peace, Caroline Found. Keep watch over your team and put in a good word for them.
My honest rating for THE MIRACLE SEASON: a strong 3/5