I’m a little late to this game (no pun intended), but we watched Champions as a family recently, and we all want to recommend it. (Spoiler alert!)
Woody Harrelson plays the lead, as a volatile basketball coach who avoids jail for drunk driving by coaching a team of Special Olympic athletes. It’s a feel-good (though often crass) film based on a true story of mutual growth and care. It offers all the things you would want to see in a sweet, comedic, sports movie called Champions. I asked Penny what she liked about it, and she said:
“I liked that even though they had challenges they pushed through and made it all the way to the championships. I also liked the love story that was mixed in with the basketball.”
What makes Champions remarkable is not the plotline—most sports movies follow this formula, though there’s a fun twist at the end of this one. What’s remarkable is that the filmmakers hired a group of adults with intellectual disabilities to play the majority of the main characters. It’s unusual to watch a film where people with intellectual disabilities are well represented, the acting is terrific, and they tackle the everyday issues of bigotry and bias and hardship and friendship and family life that these young adults routinely face.
A new report finds that “Only one film out of the 800 reviewed included disability representation proportional to what’s seen in the U.S. population.” This film gives us not only a story of hope and redemption, but also a vision of the types of stories worth telling and people worth featuring on film.
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