#Review: Champions

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Out this week in cinemas is Champions. Starring Woody Harrelson and Kaitlin Olson, Champions follows Marcus (Harrelson) as he coaches a team of basketball players with intellectual disabilities.

The plot of Champions follows the usual tropes of films like The Mighty Ducks and Hardball. A disillusioned coach is brought low after an incident, usually involving alcohol and is made to perform community service. With Marcus, he has to coach the Friends, a group of intellectually disabled athletes. He’s disappointed that he has to take a major step back in his career but he quickly realises how great this team is. He also realises he wants to be a part of their journey, even if it’s only for 90 days.

Champions is a fun film. Unfortunately, its biggest problem is the biggest name in the film. I quickly realised that I didn’t care about Marcus and his plight. I cared about the Friends. The team consists of Benny, Johnny, Cody, Craig, Showtime, Marlon, Blair, Arthur, Darius and Consentino. Each of these characters is interesting in their own way and I honestly believe could carry a film about their own personal journeys. Now the film does focus on Johnny, unfortunately, that’s because he is a part of Marcus’ story.

The film does give each character a brief vignette giving a glimpse into their lives. The worst part of that is that I wanted to learn more. I wanted to know about Darius’ life before and after his accident. I wanted to see Benny’s struggles with his job and his passion for basketball. We were given one brief scene of Consentino at her ballet practice which came out of nowhere, but I was immediately invested. The actors playing the friends are charming and compelling actors and sadly they’re not given enough time on screen.

Though the film is formulaic it is carried by its cast. Also, I may think Harrelson and Olson take up too much screen time their story is still quite sweet. Harrelson is charming in a gruff kind of way, but he’s clearly a good guy at heart. It’s also just great to see Olson more, she’s always been great and doesn’t get enough work.

Champions is a predictable but charming film, with standout performances from several of its cast members. I just wished it focused on them more than its bigger names.

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