Champions is the latest addition to the genre of sports comedy movies that aim to both entertain and inspire its audience. However, this movie fails in both aspects, as it lacks originality, humor, and heart.
Champions centers around Vince (played by Vince Vaughn), a self-centered gym owner who discovers that he has a long-lost teenage son named Michael (portrayed by newcomer actor Jakob Salvati). Moreover, Michael has Down syndrome and wants to compete in the Special Olympics. Vince, having no experience in parenting, finds himself responsible for Michael and ends up coaching his team of misfit contestants in the Special Olympics.
While the premise of the movie is not necessarily bad, the execution leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, the movie relies heavily on stereotypes and cliches about people with disabilities. The characters of the Special Olympics team are all one-dimensional, with each having a single defining trait that borders on caricature.
Then there’s the issue of the humor in the movie, or rather, the lack of it. Champions tries to be a comedy, but the jokes fall flat and feel forced. The movie tries too hard to be funny and uses offensive and insensitive material to elicit laughs, which instead makes the audience cringe. The jokes about Michael’s disability feel exploitative rather than inclusive and sympathetic.
Furthermore, the movie’s pacing is uneven, leading to disinterest and boredom. The film stretches out scenes that should have been quick and concise, while the main conflict – the team’s preparation for the Special Olympics – feels rushed and lacking in detail.
However, what ultimately derails Champions is its self-righteousness. The movie tries to tell a story of inclusion and acceptance, but it feels like they’re talking down to the audience. The characters’ arcs are predictable and played out in a trite and formulaic fashion, providing no new insight or value.
The resolution of the main conflict, the Special Olympics competition, is underwhelming and anticlimactic. There are no surprises or emotional weight to the ending, making the movie feel like it sputters to a stop without any growth or memorable moments.
As for the acting, the veteran cast of Woody Harrelson, Vince Vaughn, and Terry Bradshaw do their best with what they have. However, they are hampered by a lackluster script and a disjointed storyline. Jakob Salvati’s portrayal of Michael is decent, but the character falls prey to the stereotypical portrayal of people with Down syndrome.
In conclusion, Champions is a movie that had good intentions, but failed to deliver an engaging, enjoyable, or meaningful experience. The movie’s self-righteousness, lack of originality, humor, and heart make it a forgettable entry in the sprawling genre of sports comedies.