Hoosiers is a 1986 film about Indiana high school basketball. Gene Hackman stars as Norman Dale, a former big-time college basketball coach who comes to tiny Hickory, Indiana to coach Hickory High's very tiny basketball team. Hackman must overcome his own troubled past, win over the skeptical Hickory townsfolk, and get his players to believe in themselves. In his spare time he romances Barbara Hershey.
This movie contains examples of:
- The Alcoholic: Shooter (played by Dennis Hopper).
- Ate His Gun: Narrowly averted off-screen. After Shooter fell off the proverbial wagon hard one night, during which time he'd humiliated Coach Dale and the entire Hickory team during an important game of theirs, he was later found by his son and Coach Dale, unconscious in a field somewhere with his rifle, having apparently passed out before he could use it on himself. They take him to the hospital to dry out, where he recovers, earning his son's respect for the first time in the process.
- Big Game: For the state championship!
- Dark and Troubled Past: Coach Dale has settled for a job at rinky-dink Hickory because he was run out of college basketball for punching one of his players.
- David Versus Goliath: Discussed. Quoted verbatim, in fact: "... and David put his hand in the bag and took out a stone and flung it, and it struck the Philistine in the head, and he fell to the ground. Amen."
- Down on the Farm
- Down to the Last Play: "I'll make it."
- Everytown, America
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Count how many shots Jimmy Chitwood takes, and how many of them he makes, over the course of the movie.
- Market-Based Title: Released in the UK as Best Shot.
- German: Freiwurf (Free Throw); French: Le Grand Défi (The Great Challenge), Catalan: Més que ídols (More than Idols)
- Opposing Sports Team: Averted. South Bend Central appears to be a perfectly sportsmanlike team.
- Redemption Quest: For the disgraced Norman Dale.
- Shooter too, for his whole wasted life, as well as for disgracing his son.
- Rousing Speech: The "winners" speech gets the Slow Clap of approval from the team.
- Serious Business: The people of Hickory really, REALLY care about the high school basketball team. They have town meetings about them.
- Of course, in small-town Indiana this was Truth in Television, at least until they started combining the various high schools and getting rid of the one class championship in favor of four classes. Bring up the issue of "class basketball" for the real Serious Business.
- Slow Clap
- Spiritual Successor: The 2011 film The Mighty Macs is very similar to Hoosiers, with the only major differences being instead of an Indiana high school men's basketball team, it's a Pennsylvania Catholic university women's basketball team. Still not a bad film though.
- Underdogs Never Lose
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Inspired by the Milan Indians team that won the Indiana high school basketball championship in 1954. However, much was changed and fictionalized for the movie, starting with the name of the town. The real coach was 26 years old and in his second season with the team. The real championship was not quite as shocking: Milan made the semifinals the year before. However, Milan was even then a rather small school, and Muncie Central was a large, integrated, traditional basketball power.
- You Are in Command Now: Dale gets himself taken out of one game, challenging Shooter to step up into the role of coach. After a little fumbling, he does, with some support from his son.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Buddy and Whit quit the team in a scene that shows Coach Dale will brook no nonsense from his players. Whit later apologizes and rejoins the team. Buddy later is back on the team too, but we never see how or when he returns.