“Champions” (Focus)

Ernie Hudson and Woody Harrelson star in a scene from the movie “Champions.” The OSV News classification is A-III -- adults. (OSV News photo/Shauna Townley, Focus Features)

By OSV News

Positive basic values, including an implicit pro-life message, underlie the somewhat rough-grained surface of this sports comedy, adapted by director Bobby Farrelly from the 2018 Spanish-language film “Campeones.”

To avoid prison time following his arrest for drunk driving, an emotionally isolated basketball coach (Woody Harrelson) whose career has been stymied by anger issues, agrees to train a local team made up of mentally challenged youngsters as a form of community service. Even as he connects with his new charges (most prominently Kevin Iannucci, Madison Tevlin and Joshua Felder), he also takes a fresh interest in an aspiring actress (Kaitlin Olson) with whom he previously shared a one-night stand that ended in intense mutual disdain but who, by coincidence, turns out to be the sister of Iannucci’s character.

While respecting the dignity of the disabled kids, Mark Rizzo’s script successfully reaps laughs from their quirky personality traits as it charts the protagonist’s journey toward emotional fulfillment. But the trip is not a fit outing for kids or even teens, especially since the screenplay’s perspective on human sexuality, although sound in its ultimate goal of deeper commitment, is too broadly permissive.

Off-screen casual sex, some premarital sensuality, considerable sexual humor, mature themes, about a half-dozen mild oaths, at least one use of the F-word, frequent crude and crass language, obscene gestures. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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