Woody Harrelson stars in the hilarious and heartwarming story of a former minor-league basketball coach who, after a series of missteps, is ordered by the court to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities. He soon realizes that despite his doubts, together, this team can go further than they ever imagined.
What We Thought:
Champions is a tough movie to review. For one, what type of monster is going to criticize a movie about people with intellectual disabilities trying to win a basketball championship? And two, the things I like most about the movie would spoil it for others. I’ll do my best to tip toe around what I mean.
First off, we’ve seen movies like this hundreds of times. Woody Harrelson plays a basketball coach that gets fired, gets busted for a DUI and then gets handed community service as a punishment. He is to coach a team of intellectually disabled people until his community service hours are over. He won’t be accepted right away by some of his team. He’ll not understand their individual uniqueness at first either, but by film’s end everyone will have grown for the better.
That’s expected but what wasn’t expected is the actual ending and the personalities each actor brings to their character. We don’t see people with intellectual disabilities as stars of films often, if ever, but each character has a personality and character trait you grow to love. Harrelson gets to know pretty much every kid throughout the film, but does have a focus on one because of his sister (Kaitlin Olson). I liked that each character has a personality. They have lives, jobs, families, they are fully fleshed out characters and that’s awesome to see because you usually don’t see it. They are seen as people, real, every day people.
Then there is the ending. I won’t spoil what happens, but I like how it ends. You expect a movie like this to have a perfect Disney type ending, but because the movie has realistic characters in it, it goes with an ending I can appreciate. You’ll feel warm and fuzzy at the end, but it doesn’t beat you over the head which is great.
Champions is a nice little film with characters we need to see more of in movies. We’ve seen similar themes, but the characters will make you laugh and make you feel good. That’s the point of it. I haven’t seen the original film it’s based on so I can’t tell you how different it is from that, but overall it is…
Director: Bobby Farrelly
Writer: Mark Rizzo
Producers: Paul Brooks, Scott Niemeyer, Jeremy Plager
Executive Producers: Woody Harrelson, Brad Kessell, Alexander Jooss, Álvaro Longoria, Javier Fesser, and Luis Manso
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Kaitlin Olson, Ernie Hudson, Cheech Marin, and Matt Cook
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