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Bobby Farrelly
Woody Harrelson, Kaitlin Olson, Matt Cook
Writing Credits:
Mark Rizzo, Javier Fesser, David Marqués

A former minor-league basketball coach is ordered by the court to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities.

Box Office:
$5 million.
Opening Weekend:
$5,148,740 on 3030 Screens.
Domestic Gross:

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
English DVS
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 124 min.
Price: $24.98
Release Date: 5/2/2023

• Audio Commentary with Director Bobby Farrelly
• 12 Deleted Scenes
• “Keeping It Friendly” Featurette
• “Woody and the Team” Featurette
• “Casting the Friends” Featurette


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Champions [Blu-Ray] (2023)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 17, 2023)

In the 1990s, the Farrelly brothers achieved success as the filmmaking team behind hits like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary. In 2018, Peter Farrelly went solo with Green Book and found himself the director of a flick that won the Best Picture Oscar.

In the meantime, Bobby Farrelly worked on TV, with 2014’s flop sequel Dumb and Dumber To as his last big screen partnership to date with Peter. Bobby returns for his solo directorial debut with 2023’s Champions.

Marcus Marakovich (Woody Harrelson) works as an assistant coach for a minor league basketball team. Though skilled, his hot temper keeps him from bigger things, and after some bad choices, he loses his job.

Now at risk of jail time after a drunken car crash, Judge Mary Menendez (Alexandra Castillo) offers Marcus a choice: go to prison or do community service as the coach of a basketball team made up of players with intellectual disabilities. Marcus chooses the latter and overcomes his prejudices to work with the athletes.

Through the years, the Farrelly brothers featured different kinds of disabled characters in their movies. These varied from physical to intellectual, and probably the most famous came from the title character’s brother in There’s Something About Mary.

Do I think the Farrellys did this with good intentions? Definitely, but I also feel that their use of folks with special needs tends to seem somewhat gratuitous and vaguely condescending.

The difference between those earlier movies and Champions stems from the fact that the disabled roles in the prior flicks existed in a supporting role that generally left them less than essential to the narrative. In this case, special needs people become a focal point.

This doesn’t mean Champions necessarily feels less semi-patronizing, though. Actually, “patronizing” – semi or otherwise – probably takes the film’s attitude too far, but I do get the impression Bobby intends the movie as a Public Service Message more than a real narrative.

Indeed, at one point the movie grinds to a halt to give us backstories for the players. This sequence acts less as exposition and more as a way to “educate” the audience in the ways special needs folks differ.

Which I can appreciate in theory. Too many people hear “intellectual disabilities” and believe one size fits all, whereas these men and women come with a wide spectrum of abilities and aptitudes.

While I like the fact Champions lets us see this, Farrelly executes these moments in the clumsiest possible manner. Surely a filmmaker with decades of experience could find a smoother way to convey this information than the abrupt and patronizing “let’s meet the characters” montage we get.

Of course, if Farrelly wanted to go big, he could’ve made the special needs roles the true focal point. Instead, we get the story from Marcus’s POV, and that adds to its trite nature.

From Minute One, we know exactly how Marcus will evolve. Not a single surprise arrives along the way.

Oddly, Champions damages this path because it doesn’t make Marcus seem particularly close-minded at the start. Granted, we see that he views his work with the athletes as a means to an end, but he lacks the real resistance and misguided perspective that one would usually find in a role like his.

I get that Farrelly probably didn’t want to paint Marcus as a true bigot from the start, but it still makes him too soft. He needs to view the athletes in a more stereotypical and pigeonholed way than he does.

Really, beyond his stammered almost-use of the word “retarded”, Marcus doesn’t come across with much of a negative view. Again, he doesn’t need to be fully prejudiced, but for his evolution to make an impact, he needs to seem less open-minded than he does.

I do appreciate the use of actors with actual disabilities, which the Farrellys didn’t necessarily do in the past. For instance, Mary’s disabled brother Warren in There’s Something About Mary was portrayed by a neurotypical actor.

I can’t claim any of them offer particularly good performances, though a few fare better than others. In particular, Madison Tevlin’s saucy Consentino and Kevin Iannucci’s sweet Johnny hold their own.

The work from the special needs actors never harms the movie, in any case. As awkward as they can seem, their verisimilitude more than compensates.

Unfortunately, they can’t make Champions any less trite and predictable. While it comes with some admirable qualities, the movie simply lacks spark, and it can treat its disabled characters more as Afternoon Special educational chess pieces than real personalities too much of the time.

Footnote: in addition to a cast-based music video during the final credits, a tag appears at the very end.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Champions appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This turned into a winning presentation.

Overall delineation worked well. Though the occasional wide shot felt a bit soft, most of the film came across as accurate and well-defined.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to materialize.

Colors leaned toward a predictable amber and teal. These hues came across with appropriate reproduction and impact.

Blacks looked dark and deep, while shadows appeared smooth and concise. The movie offered an appealing image.

Though not dazzling, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack worked fine for the material. This meant a mix heavy on atmosphere and music.

Some scenes broadened horizons, mainly via basketball games. In general, though, the soundfield emphasized environmental information.

Audio quality satisfied, with speech that appeared natural and concise. Music showed nice range and punch.

As noted, effects usually lacked much to do, but they came across as accurate and clean, with nice power during a few louder bits like a car crash. Again, this didn’t turn into a memorable mix, but it made sense for the story.

A few extras appear, and we begin with an audio commentary from director Bobby Farrelly. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, and related domains.

Prior Farrelly commentaries tended to vary between okay and awful. This one leans toward okay but not better.

Farrelly does shed light at times, but as in the past, he tends to like to describe the movie and simply name the actors. Still, he brings a decent chat, even if it lacks real depth.

12 Deleted Scenes occupy a total of 18 minutes, two seconds. These tend to provide either added exposition or more with supporting characters.

Some decent material appears. However, because the movie already runs long at 124 minutes, more footage would’ve bogged down the end product.

Three featurettes follow, and Keeping It Friendly runs four minutes, 49 seconds. It brings remarks from Farrelly, acting coach AB Farrelly, and actors Woody Harrelson, James Day Keith, Joshua Felder, Alex Hintz, Cheech Marin, Kaitlin Olson, Madison Tevlin, Casey Metcalfe, Matthe Von Der Ahe, Tom Sinclair, Bradley Edens, Ashton Gunning and Kevin Iannucci.

“Friendly” looks at the cast of the movie, with an emphasis on the intellectually disabled actors. This mostly feels self-congratulatory and lacks much real substance.

Woody and the Team goes for two minutes, 40 seconds and features Harrelson, Bobby Farrelly, Olson, Metcalfe, and Tevlin.

We get basics about Harrelson’s work in the movie. Expect more fluff.

Finally, Casting the Friends lasts four minutes, 37 seconds and involves Tevlin, Iannucci, Metcalfe, Keith, Gunning, Felder, Hintz, Von Der Ahe, Sinclair, and Edens.

We see home video of the supporting actors. Some charm emerges via our ability to see them in regular life.

While I appreciate its attempts to celebrate folks with different abilities, Champions seems far too trite to go anywhere satisfying. It puts its heart in the right place but nonetheless ends up as a predictable and limp mix of comedy and drama. The Blu-ray boasts solid visuals and audio plus a mix of bonus materials. I respect the movie’s goals but the final product sputters.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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