The Miracle Season
|The Miracle Season|
|Directed by||Sean McNamara|
|Story by||David Aaron Cohen|
|Edited by||Jeff Canavan|
|Music by||Roque Baños|
|Distributed by||LD Entertainment|
|Box office||$10.2 million|
The Miracle Season is a 2018 American sports drama film directed by Sean McNamara and starring Erin Moriarty, Helen Hunt, William Hurt, and Danika Yarosh. The film is based on the true story of the Iowa City West High School volleyball team after the sudden death of the team's heart and leader, Caroline Found, in 2011. It was released in the United States on April 6, 2018. The film received mixed reviews from critics and has grossed $10 million worldwide.
Caroline "Line" Found is the star volleyball player on the Iowa City West High School Volleyball Team and well-loved by members of the community. With Line as the captain, the Trojans have been undefeated and everyone in the city has high hopes for West to win the championship again after the previous year, especially against their long-time rival, City High. During a party at her house, Line decides to secretly sneak away to visit her mother Ellyn at the hospital, where she is being treated for cancer. That night, Line herself is killed in a moped accident, leaving the entire community in mourning. At Line's wake, Ellyn insists on walking to her daughter's casket to pay her respects; Ellyn dies from cancer days after the wake, leaving her husband and Line's father Ernie grieving with the loss of both his wife and his daughter.
Despite the school and community still in shock over Line's death, the Trojans' coach, Kathy "Brez" Bresnahan continues to hold volleyball practice. She directly approaches Line's best friend, Kelley Fliehler, encouraging her to return because Line would have wanted them to continue. Kelley refuses, but Brez persists until Kelley agrees. After it is revealed that the Trojans lost their most recent match due to forfeit, Kelley encourages the entire school that they need to continue for Line's sake.
West High struggles in practice and loses their first game badly, still discouraged from Line's death. Brez begins to run the team through grueling drills until a teammate can serve to spot one. When Kelley succeeds, Brez names her the new captain of the team. As the weeks go by, the team begins to win and becomes motivated to win the state championship for Line. Brez informs the team they need to win all of their remaining games to be eligible for the state championship. The Trojans win their next fourteen games, giving them a chance to win the championship.
Before the state tournament begins, Kelley finds a gift from Line's father, Ernie, that encourages her not to play for Line or to win for her, but to "Live Like Line." At West High, Kelley and boyfriend Alex paint the windows to read "Live Like Line". T-Shirts with the catchphrase were given out to players, staff, and fans. At the state tournament, the Trojans win the quarter-final game with ease, but struggle to win their semi-final game. They move on to the championship, and have to go up against City High, who are heavily favored to win. Before the game, Brez gives a tribute to Line, deciding not to have a moment of silence, but encourages the crowd to meet someone new, as Line always was kind to everyone. City takes the lead early in the match, but West manages to tie the score and force the fifth and final game. The Trojans go on to win and capture the state championship again. As the crowd cheers, "Sweet Caroline" plays in honor of Line and Kelley holds Line's picture up high and proud.
During the closing credits, images, videos, and footage show the real life Caroline Found and her family, Kelley Fliehler, Kathy Bresnahan, and the Iowa West High volleyball team. On-screen subtitles reveal that Caroline Found's death inspired the Iowa West High volleyball team repeat their win for the 2011 Iowa State Championship. The Founds climbed Mount Monadnock for a year. Over 4,000 students from across Iowa attended Line's funeral. Kathy "Brez" Bresnahan was voted National Coach of the Year for 2011, and would later retire from coaching in 2014; she remains in contact with the 2011 team. Scott Sanders would replace Bresnahan as the West High volleyball team's coach, while Kelley Fliehler went on to study microbiology at Iowa State University. Ernie was given a white rose at senior night to honor Caroline Found. A bench in downtown Iowa City was painted in honor of Line and her mother Ellyn, and is the only bench in town that has ever been painted over.
- Erin Moriarty as Kelley Fliehler, Caroline's best friend who becomes the new volleyball team captain after Caroline dies
- Danika Yarosh as Caroline "Line" Found, star player of the Iowa City West High School volleyball team who dies in a moped accident
- Helen Hunt as Kathy Bresnahan, volleyball coach
- Jillian Fargey as Ellyn Found, Caroline's sick mother
- William Hurt as Dr. Ernie Found, Caroline's father and Ellyn's husband
- Garry Chalk as Principal Shaw
- Tiera Skovbye as Brie Tipton, West High Volleyball Player #8
- Nesta Cooper as Lizzy Ackerman, West High Volleyball Player #18
- Lillian Douchet-Roche as Taylor Mitchell, West High Volleyball Player #14
- Natalie Sharp as Mackenzie "Mack" Davidson, West High Volleyball Player #11
- Rebecca Merastry as Volleyball Player #1 for West High
- Emma Barlow as Volleyball Player #17 for West High
- Burkely Duffield as Alex, Kelley's boyfriend
- Rebecca Staab as Bethany, Kelley's mother
- Ava Grace Cooper as Little Kelley
- Bailey Skodje as Little Line
The movie also had real-life former volleyball players as extras. Vanessa Wiebe and Cassandra Bagnell, who previously played for Thompson Rivers University and Dalhousie University respectively portray Twin Towers 1 & 2, City High School volleyball teammates who rival West High. Jessica Bailey, who was a volleyball player for Trinity Western University, portrays herself as one of the West High Volleyball players. Alexis Jonker, Katelyn Devaney, and Rowyn Neufeld, also from Trinity Western University portray other volleyball players from rival schools West High faces. Olivia Cesaretti and Brianna Solberg of Douglas College, Taeya Page of University of Calgary, as well as Samantha Patko of University of British Columbia portray additional West High Volleyball players. The film's director, Sean McNamara, makes a cameo as a Caroline Found fan, while Helen Hunt's real-life daughter, Makena Lei Gordon Carnahan, portrays a high schooler named Ruby.
The film was originally titled Live Like Line. William Hurt and Helen Hunt joined the film in June 2016; Hunt and McNamara previously worked together on the similarly-themed film Soul Surfer. Filming took place in Vancouver, Canada.
The film was released on DVD and Digital by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on July 31, 2018.
In the United States and Canada, The Miracle Season was released alongside A Quiet Place, Chappaquiddick and Blockers, and as projected to gross around $3 million from 1,707 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to $4.1 million, finishing 11th; 74% of its audience was female.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 51% based on 43 reviews, and an average rating of 5.63/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Miracle Season has a worthy real-life story to tell, but one-dimensional characters and aggressively maudlin storytelling undercut any emotional uplift." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 44 out of 100, based on 13 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
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