Champions is coming to a theater near you.

The movie, which hits screens March 10, is about a disgraced minor league basketball coach ordered by the court to manage a team of players, called The Friends, all of whom have developmental disabilities. Should you go? Here, everything you need to know about a film being described by many outlets as a “feel-good underdog comedy.” Rated PG-13 for strong language and crude/sexual references.

The Director

The man at the helm is Bobby Farrelly who, along with his brother, Peter, is better known as one-half of “The Farrelly brothers.” The duo is probably most famous for Dumb and Dumber, Shallow Hal and There’s Something About Mary. So, yeah, it’s a little worrisome that he directed a movie with actors who need to be treated with respect and dignity. Early indicators, however, suggest he pulls it off pretty well.

Who It Stars

The biggest name is Woody Harrelson, who plays the disgraced minor league coach. But the real stars are the young actors who make up The Friends, found through an open casting call: Kevin Iannucci, Joshua Felder, Madison Tevlin, Ashton Gunning, Matthew Von Der Ahe, Tom Sinclair, James Day Keith, Alex Hintz, Casey Metcalfe and Bradley Edens. It’s the first acting gig for many of them.

In a recent New York Times interview, Harrelson says that the young actors “are so cool, so funny, so honest.  … Within a couple of hours I was hook, line and sinker a part of them. I haven’t had much experience with people with disabilities, so I didn’t know what to expect and I’ve got to say, it was probably the most enjoyable experience I ever had making a movie.”

The movie “shows you can do whatever you want to do,” says actor James Day Keith in this Variety article, which is packed with wonderful quotes from an excited cast and crew. “I’ve been proving people wrong basically my whole entire life, and this movie shows it.”

Origin Story

The movie is based on the 2018 Spanish hit film Campeones. Directed by Javier Fesser, who is one of the writers on the English-language version, it won Best Picture at the Spanish Film Academy’s Goya Awards.

A 2018 Hollywood Reporter review notes it’s “standard family-friendly fare, but carried off superbly. …  It features more comic scenes than tender ones, but its best moments are both at the same time.”

Red Carpet Photo Gallery!

Check out these great photos from Focus Features.


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