Strong cast, familiar tropes give “Champions” winning formula

The Farrelly brothers — Peter and Bobby — reigned supreme over comedies of questionable taste in the 1990s and 2000s (“Dumb and Dumber,” “There’s Something About Mary,” “Shallow Hal,” “Stuck on You”), but while brother Peter has gone on to the industry’s highest success, picking up best original screenplay and best picture Oscars for his film “Green Book,” Bobby hasn’t directed a film in awhile. He makes his comeback with his “Kingpin” star Woody Harrelson in the sports comedy “Champions,” an English-language remake of the 2018 Spanish smash hit, the Goya Award-winning, “Campeones.”

Given the Farrelly track record of dabbling in more outre or offensive comedy, one might be bracing for what “Champions” may potentially deliver, given that it follows a minor league basketball coach, Marcus (Harrelson) who is sentenced to community service after a drunk driving accident, which is how he finds himself coaching a team of intellectually disabled adults at a local community center in Des Moines, Iowa. But after an initial fake-out, Farrelly, Harrelson and writer Mark Rizzo deftly thread the needle on “Champions,” which is for the most part warmly amusing, without diving too far into the realm of the maudlin or treacly; side-stepping anything insensitive while still enjoying some bawdy humor.

You might also be thinking, “isn’t this ‘The Mighty Ducks’?”–the 1992 kids sports comedy about an attorney (Emilio Estevez) who gets sentenced to community service after a drunk driving accident and has to coach a Minneapolis pee-wee hockey team — and yes, it’s basically the same story. The grumpy coach who has a hard time connecting with people finds himself opening up with his unlikely charges, and learning to love the game again, because of the players, not in spite of them. The story does not deviate from the traditional sports movie formula we know so …read more

Source:: The Denver Post

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