Movie Review: Hoosiers (1986)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1986 movie starring Gene Hackman as an embattled high school basketball coach.

Synopsis: After serving in the United States Navy for several years following an incident that cost him his college coaching job, a basketball coach is given the opportunity to redeem himself by coaching a small Indiana town’s high school team in 1951. However, his slow-paced defensive coaching methods quickly alienate him from the town’s passionate fans and he risks losing his job before the season is even halfway over.


I wasn’t really planning on watching a movie before work today. But, I was up earlier than expected and my Night Court episode only killed about 20 minutes so, ultimately, I wound up watching this sports film. And, while I, originally, wasn’t really sure if I would enjoy the movie, it did prove to be better than expected.

As far as the overall plot goes, there really isn’t much that sets this movie apart from other films in this genre. One of my biggest complaints about sports movies in general is they always seem to follow the same storyline with a coach taking over an underdog team, not being very popular with his players and the community and losing at first only to turn things around by the second half of the season. This movie did the exact same thing though, to be fair, since it is an older movie, it’s very possible it was one of the first to use that now-cliché format.

What redeems this movie, in my opinion, is the excellent acting. I’ve always been a huge Gene Hackman fan and he does not disappoint in the starring role. And,  he receives a lot of help from Hopper as the town drunk/assistant coach. Hopper had an intriguing character because there was some mystery about why Hackman’s character would even hire him (the movie does take the time to show us, later, why he was the right choice).

And, I have to admit, there are some parts of this movie that just aren’t as predictable as I thought they would be. This includes the emergency town meeting that ultimately gets called in an effort to fire him. By that point in the movie, he had a lot riding against him, from his team’s record to his anger issues (especially when it was revealed he was fired from his last coaching job because he punched one of his players), and it was honestly hard to tell how, exactly, he was going to manage to save his job. I actually wish more sports movies would attempt to throw in twists like this one did.

Final Opinion

As I said, the overall plot of this movie doesn’t really differ much from most other sports movies. However, the incredible acting and unexpected twists do make this film worth taking the time to watch.

My Grade: A

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Updated: 12/20/2017, StevenHelmer
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