The Farrelly brothers have been working in movies for decades. You may remember their comedy classics like Dumb and Dumber, Me, Myself, and Irene, and There’s Something About Mary. After Peter Farrelly went off on his own to win the Oscar for Green Book, Bobby Farrelly has his solo directorial debut with Champions. This sports comedy stars Woody Harrelson as a basketball coach arrested and sentenced to community service, where he must train a group of intellectually disabled people how to play basketball. This is a predictable, heartwarming sports film that knows how to appeal to a wide audience.
A remake of the 2018 Spanish film Campeones, this film introduces Marcus Marokovich, the skilled, hotheaded assistant coach of a minor league basketball team. After shoving his coach to the floor after a disagreement and drunkenly driving into a police car, Marcus is at his lowest. However, this is the perfect opportunity to turn this zero into a hero. Early on, it is established that Marcus doesn’t learn who his players are as people, unable to build relationships with them. Once the premise and character flaw is set up, we have our movie.
The film then introduces us to The Friends, a group of intellectually disabled individuals who play basketball. You go through all these characters, and you get to learn about each one individually alongside Marcus. Each character is unique and lovable, and from there, you have your sports movie. This is your standard film about a person training a group of misfits into a skilled athletic team. This movie exists already, and you don’t really need to watch Champions to know what happens in it. Sports movies follow a formula, and this movie sticks to it like glue.
However, the formula has stayed tried and true for a reason. You know what you’re getting into, which is a funny, heartwarming film about a group of people learning to be better. This movie has hilarious moments and offers the feel-good experience you would want from this film. It’s enough to pass the time and make you smile, even if you have a clear idea of where this movie is gonna go. When you’re having as much fun as everyone in this movie, does it really matter? The story beats follow a three-act structure you’re familiar with, but Farrelly and writer Mark Rizzo successfully tell the story and evoke the emotions they want to with this film.
Woody Harrelson gives a great performance in this movie, as does Kaitlin Olson as Alex. The actors who play The Friends are all incredible, showcasing their talents in ways that they haven’t been able to in the past. Champions throws in a few unexpected moments, but it has everything you want to see from a sports movie and may have you grinning all the way through the credits.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.