CHAMPIONS opens March 10th.
Over the years, some of the best sports movies have been those focusing on the underdogs of the world, those in need of a second chance, and the undeniable power of belief. We’ve seen it with memorable stories told in the likes of RUDY, THE BLINDSIDE, MIRACLE, HOOSIERS, and countless others, all of which have gone on to become staples of the genre. And now, there could very well be another addition to that list with Bobby Farrelly’s new sports comedy CHAMPIONS.
The movie stars Woody Harrelson as a minor-league basketball coach as he leads a group of players with developmental disabilities to new heights. It will surely make us laugh, cry, and jump with joy when it opens in AMC Theatres locations nationwide. But before CHAMPIONS makes its grand debut, we should probably talk about its inspiring message and how it champions the power of belief.
A Coach’s Second Chance
Leading CHAMPIONS is Woody Harrelson as Marcus Marakovich, a disgraced coach of a G-league professional basketball team who finds himself out of a job after an on-court altercation and behind bars after rear-ending a police cruiser. Ordered by a court to complete community service, Marcus finds himself back on the basketball court, but instead of preparing NBA hopefuls, the down-on-his-luck coach is tasked with managing a team of players with intellectual disabilities called The Friends.
As was the case for Morris Buttermaker and Gordon Bombay in the timeless sports comedies THE BAD NEWS BEARS and THE MIGHTY DUCKS, respectively, Marcus Marakovich will be going for more than a few wins on basketball court, he’ll be shooting for a little redemption and a second chance to prove himself in high-pressure situations. And with delicate situations both on and off the court, this will prove to be one difficult journey for a man who so desperately wants to prove his worth and merit to his players, his peers, and himself.
Reaching The Special Olympics
Most sports comedies feature teams trying to reach the league championship, state finals, or some kind of regional tournament, and that will be no different in CHAMPIONS. But instead of vying for a finals victory at the city, regional, or state level, Marcus Marakovich and his squad have their sights set on the Special Olympics finals, which creates a major news story as well as high-intensity situation for the rebounding coach and dedicated team of young athletes.
As seen in the CHAMPIONS trailer, reaching and winning the Special Olympics basketball tournament could put Marcus back on track to coach an NBA team, but we all know it will be more than that. While Marcus’ career aspirations make for great motivation, the ragtag group of high school hoopsters, along with their hoop dreams, will surely make this championship run one to remember.
It should also be noted that having the Special Olympics as the be-all and end-all in a movie of this scale is an incredibly empowering and heartwarming move that will hopefully raise more awareness for the international organization and the good deeds it does for intellectually disabled athletes around the world.
There have been leaps and bounds when it comes to representation in the movie industry the past few years, and the trend of inclusiveness only seems to be improving as time goes on. CHAMPIONS is one of the recent film productions that has championed actors with disabilities, as it sought out actors with developmental disabilities and autism to fill out its cast.
When speaking with AMC Theatres prior to the film’s release, director Bobby Farrelly discussed how impactful it was to work with actors with developmental disabilities, actors he felt were every bit as good as their non-disabled counterparts.
“Hearing from people in the disabled community that sometimes they're infantilized, they're treated like children. Hopefully, the movie CHAMPIONS will help people to realize that people with disabilities are not children and they're well-rounded adults and they can live fully-rounded lives.”
You can check out what else Farrelly, along with stars Woody Harrelson, Kaitlin Olson, and Cheech Marin, had to say about working with the disabled community during the production of CHAMPIONS and what they learned from the experience below:
CHAMPIONS opens March 10th.