Hoosiers | Chicago Reader

Hoosiers

Gene Hackman stars as a high school basketball coach who takes his small-town Indiana team to the state championship finals (1986). Director David Anspaugh seems only marginally concerned with basketball thematics: what matters most is feeding white-bread fantasies (the film is set in the slow-footed 50s, when blacks are only a rumor and nobody's ever heard of slam 'n' jam) and laying on the inspirational corn. The styling is aggressively frowsy to conform to Hoosierland stereotypes: landscapes lower in varying shades of gray, locals wear bib overalls and dumpy brown jackets (gray and brown seem to be the state colors, gnarled and pasty the predominant facial types), and weekends are an endless succession of booster caravans to the big game. As the coach, Hackman gets to jump off the bench, wave his arms, and yell "Go get 'em" at his players (and why does he conduct practices in street shoes?). With Barbara Hershey, Sheb Wooley, and Dennis Hopper, verging on self-parody as an Oscar-hunting drunk.

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