The Clubhouse Podcast
Don Reviews "Champions"
I have a stepbrother with severe Down’s Syndrome, so one thing that will deeply infuriate me is someone who is mean to or takes advantage of someone with a disability. There have been a couple times I did things that could have been seen as not the right thing to do in some public situations where someone was being mean to the disadvantaged, so I admit that when I see a film dealing with people and mental challenges, it can hit me deep but I still try to be objective in the end.
Champions does deal with this in the story of Marcus (Wood Harrelson), a minor league basketball coach trying to get back to the NBA. After getting fired, he winds up in court on a DUI charge and is sentenced to ninety days of community service coaching a local recreational league team filled with players who are intellectually challenged. As he learns how to make the most of his situation, he also learns about himself and what it means to truly be a coach and mentor.
I want to get this out of the way: Bobby Farrelly does not direct a flashy film here, and that works really well for me. Even though Champions was filmed in Canada to double for Des Moines I did not notice anything that would have taken me out of the story as it was presented. The acting here is really good as well, with professionals like Harrelson and Kaitlin Olson alongside Cheech Marin (who really works well in a more subdued type of role that I am not used to seeing him in. The athletes (who are all in the intellectually challenged community themselves) do a solid job alongside the rest of the cast in telling this story in a way that kept me entertained and focused the entire time.
A majority of the plot is predictable here, but it still kept me intrigued. At just over two hours long, a few scenes could have been cut but I did not mind. I did like the mix of comedy with some serious and emotional underlying themes in the film, and I was so entertained that the fact that this is a remake of a 2018 Spanish film did not really cross my mind. This is why I will recommend Champions as a viewing in a second-run theater for anyone interested.