When disgraced assistant coach Marcus (Woody Harrelson) is fired from his professional basketball coaching job at the university, he doesn’t think things can get much worse. While drowning his sorrows at a pub, Marcus watches replays of himself shoving the head coach to the ground. On his way home, Marcus hits a police car and is arrested for driving while drunk. As a penalty, he is ordered to do community service. He finds himself coaching a team called The Friends, whose members consist of adults with both intellectual and developmental disabilities. Marcus becomes especially close to Johnny (Kevin Iannucci), a team member with Down syndrome who shares everything there is to know about all the other players. Marcus soon finds himself in a relationship with Johnny’s older, over-protective, sister Alex (Kaitlin Olson). With Alex’s help, Marcus learns how to relate to the team on a new level. Soon they are on a winning streak that sees The Friends in the running to play in the championship game in Winnipeg. But Darius (Joshua Felder), the team member with the most outstanding basketball skills, refuses to play for him. Marcus learns about how Darius came to have his brain injury and, for the first time, truly takes responsibility for the impact that his actions have on others. At the last minute Darius agrees to play. But will that be enough to secure a victory for The Friends, and does winning even matter?
Drink driving; the challenges of living with disability; the exploitation of disabled employees; relationship dysfunction.
Champions has some violence. For example:
- Marcus shoves his boss to the ground on live TV. The scene is repeatedly replayed and later kids make a meme out of it.
- Marcus runs a red light and crashes his car into a police cruiser.
- Marcus punches a man in the stomach when the guy refers to The Friends as retards.
- Darius tells Marcus about the drunk driver that caused the accident which derailed his life.
Champions has some sexual references. For example:
- Alex tells Marcus that it is not her first time ‘swiping right’.
- Some of The Friends mention that Johnny’s girlfriend sleeps around and Johnny admits it himself.
- There are many references to genitals, sexual arousal and erections.
- Another player’s girlfriend is rumoured to have ‘all the sex moves’.
- Marcus tells Johnny to make sure he showers his ‘undercarriage’.
- Alex tells Marcus that he is passable in bed.
- Alex and Marcus make a deal to have sex after away games.
- Alex’s mother hints that she knows what Marcus and her daughter are up to and then later openly announces that they are sleeping together. To which Johnny is surprised.
- Alex proclaims that she is a grown woman who can have sex.
- When Marcus shows up at Alex’s house, her mother asks him if he is there for an afternoon ‘quickie’. Alex is horrified but Marcus asks if the quickie thing is on the menu.
- A character says that he was scared the first time he had a threesome, but that it was good.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
Champions has some substance use. For example:
- Marcus drinks in a pub and then gets behind the wheel where he runs a red light and then crashes into a police car.
- Marcus later admits to still drinking occasionally.
- Marcus finds out that a drunk driver was responsible for the accident that caused Darius’s traumatic brain injury.
- Marcus gifts a bottle of wine to Alex and Johnny’s mother when he is invited to dinner one evening.
Nudity and sexual activity
Champions has some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Marcus is seen shirtless, in bed, while Alex rummages around him in a skirt and bra collecting her underpants and getting dressed after a one night stand.
- Alex and Marcus kiss on the couch while she lies on top of him. She is later shown wrapped in a sheet.
There’s no product placement in Champions.
Champions has some coarse language and name calling.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Champions is a sports comedy that is well cast. It has a predictable plot, but the authentic characters lend a lot of heart to the movie. The movie has lots of sexual references, coarse language and crude humour. Because of this, Champions is not a family movie and will best be enjoyed by older teens and mature audiences.
These are the main messages from Champions:
- We should not be afraid to fail or to lose, we should only be afraid of never having tried.
- True champions are those who face their fears, ignorance and judgement and who are able to rise above it.
Values in this Champions that you could reinforce with your children are teamwork, compassion, forgiveness, courage, persistence and empathy.
Champions could also give you the chance to talk with your children about attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:
- Drink driving and the lasting effects of poor choices.
- Being overprotective of those who would like to live their own lives, even if that life doesn’t look like yours.
- Exploiting people with disabilities.
- Looking at people in a certain way or believing them to be insignificant due to a disability.
- Making sensible and mature relationship choices.