Champions (2023)

Champions (2023)

It’s cheesy and predictable, but Champions is an effective feel-good movie that follows one unlikely team’s journey to success



United States of America
Comedy, Drama
Alexandra Castillo, Barbara Pollard, Cheech Marin
124 min


Put this on if you want a no-frills, no-brainer, feel-good flick to watch.

What it's about

The movie follows Marcus Marakovich (Woody Harrelson), a professional coach who is forced to train a basketball team of people with learning disabilities.

The take

Champions is as formulaic as it gets, but it’s impossible not to smile watching it. It’s based on a 2018 Spanish movie of the same name, but it feels a lot like the 2023 Korean movie Dream too. In both (and indeed a lot of other) films, we follow a sad sack antihero who, by virtue of being exposed to less fortunate people, is magically transformed into a good guy who gets all the glory he wished for by the end of the story. You know where it’s headed and you even know how it gets there, so it’s devoid of genuine twists and thrills. But the ways in which it gets there, however familiar, are sometimes funny and heartwarming. If you can stomach the cheesiness and predictability of it all, then Champions comes as an effectively hopeful and feel-good film that’s worth tuning into if you want a light laugh. Otherwise, it's all familiar fluff you can skip for better fare.

What stands out

Although Dream is an overall better-made film, Champions gets a slight upper hand in terms of casting. Unlike the former, the latter employs first-time actors who also suffer from developmental disabilities. In the film, they exceed expectations by succeeding in a highly coordinated sport, but in real life, they impress with solid performances across the board. Madison Tevlin and James Day Keith, in particular, shine in every scene they’re in.


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