Champions Review – Filled with joy

Woody has shown the world white men can jump. But now he’s showing us that there’s more to the world’s second-most-played sport, basketball. He doesn’t need to prove that he can play the game, now he’s proving anyone can play the game in this year’s movie with a big heart, Champions.

Marcus lives and breathes basketball. Even when a beautiful woman is standing at the base of his bed, he’s thinking about basketball. His life revolves around the sport so much he has come to believe his plays as a coach are the only ones that could ever work. What he doesn’t understand is in the case of that beautiful woman standing at the base of your bed; making a human connection is a little more important than the game.

Marcus continues to fail making human connections. So when he challenges Phil, his long time friend and head coach, on the court in front of the team and national television, he gets a nasty reality check.

Drowning his sorrow’s after being stood down, Marcus makes a stupid decision to drive himself home. Thankfully he gets arrested by some police when he crashes into the back of their car. With luck on his side, Marcus isn’t sent to jail but sent to teach a team of basketball players with intellectual disabilities. The team name, Friends.

Friends are the best group of Misfits you can find. There are boys living in a sharehouse, some have jobs, one knows all the moves to celebrate when he scores. And then there’s Johnny who lives with his Mum and big sister, Alex. Johnny has a big heart and gets attached to everyone far too easily. Which makes the news that Coach Marcus has feelings for Alex.

Marcus’s biggest challenge isn’t only to teach a group to be the best players they can. The challenge itself is to understand why these players play basketball at all. To do that, he will have to make some meaningful connections. This in turn will hopefully help them win the Championship.

So here you have the perfect set up for a film full of laughter and a lot of positive vibes. The message this film is putting out is loud and clear and there’s no way around it. You don’t always know someone’s story, how they got to be where they are in life. You don’t know what struggles they are going through to make the most of their lives. So at no point, should anyone get in someone’s way from being their best. But at the same time, Champions is a tale about not getting in your own way in the face of life’s challenges. You just never know, by helping someone grow you might just change your own life and theirs.

The movie is under the direction of Bobby Farrelly who along with his brother gave us Something About Mary, Hall Pass, Me Myself and Irene, Shallow Hal, Kingpin and Dumb and Dumber to name a few. These mentioned movies poke fun at the underdogs of the world at a time when comedy could get away with it. You’d be forgiven to think in today’s market such jokes might not suit your idea of comedy anymore. You’ll be pleased to know the movie uses humour against the underprivileged to prove a point. To highlight, it’s not funny.

Champions is a remake of the 2018 Spanish film, Campeones. It’s also Farrelly’s first solo directorial effort without his brother. As you would expect the comedy doesn’t stop all the way through. From the hilarious one-liners from the team, to the antics they get up to on tour. It’s that classic comedy that doesn’t set out to hurt or discriminate, just to make you laugh.

The group of players absolutely nail their characters with perfection. The stand-out performance from Kevin Iannucco who plays Johnny. Not only does Innaucco manage to deliver his lines with perfect comedic timing, he manages to bring some emotional substance that fills his scenes.

Following with another outstanding performance is Madison Tevlin as Cosentino. She’s a boss and doesn’t let anything past her. She brings such a wonderful energy to the film full of joy and love. That is until she has to whip the team into shape herself.

There are a few technical issues mostly in the continuity surrounding any games being played. And it sometimes feels like the script itself is too basic that the actors struggle to give it life. But where the film fails, it gains back all enjoyment with the wonderful storyline.

If you’re white and you can’t jump or if you don’t quite understand the pick-and-roll, fear not. All the technical aspects of basketball have no place in Champions. The film will fill you with joy as it lets you laugh along with everyone.

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