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Short takes

Not suitable under 15; parental guidance to 15 (sexual references, language, crude humour, themes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Champions
  • a review of Champions completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 16 March 2023.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 15 Not suitable due to sexual references, language, crude humour and themes.
Children aged 15 Parental guidance recommended due to sexual references, language, crude humour and themes.
Children aged 16 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Champions
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Crude humour and coarse language
Length: 124 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

When disgraced assistant coach Marcus (Woody Harrelson) is fired from his professional basketball coaching job at the university, he doesn’t think things can get much worse. While drowning his sorrows at a pub, Marcus watches replays of himself shoving the head coach to the ground. On his way home, Marcus hits a police car and is arrested for DUI. As a penalty, he is ordered to do community service and finds himself coaching a team called The Friends, whose members consist of adults with both intellectual and developmental disabilities. Marcus becomes especially close to Johnny (Kevin Iannucci), a team member with Down syndrome, who shares everything there is to know about all the other players, and Marcus soon finds himself in a relationship with Johnny’s older, over-protective, sister Alex (Kaitlin Olson). With Alex’s help, Marcus learns how to relate to the team on a whole other level and soon they are on a winning streak that sees The Friends in the running to play in the championship game in Winnipeg. Darius (Joshua Felder), the team member with the most outstanding basketball skills, refuses to play for him until Marcus learns about how Darius came to have his brain injury and, for the first time, truly takes responsibility for the impact that his actions have on others. At the last minute Darius agrees to play but will that be enough to secure a victory for The Friends and will winning even matter?


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Drink driving; The challenges of living with disability; The exploitation of disabled employees; Relationship dysfunction.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • Marcus shoves his boss to the ground on live TV. The scene is repeatedly replayed and later kids make a meme out of it.
  • Marcus runs a red light and crashes his car into a police cruiser.
  • Marcus punches a man in the stomach when the guy refers to The Friends as retards.
  • Darius tells Marcus about the drunk driver that caused the accident which derailed his life.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

  • Nothing further noted.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • A small mouse sends The Friends fleeing from the showers. When the little guy falls into the drain with the water running, Johnny is worried it is going to drown. He is very upset and begs Marcus to rescue it but Marcus refuses, saying that only Johnny can do it. Johnny has to face his fear of water (after he nearly drowned as a child) and manages to get into the shower for the sake of the mouse; who extricates himself from the drain and runs away.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Alex tells Marcus that it is not her first time ‘swiping right’.
  • Some of The Friends mention that Johnny’s girlfriend sleeps around and Johnny admits this himself.
  • When Marcus tells the team they will learn some strategies for ball handling one of the players says, “My girlfriend loves ball handling”.
  • Another player’s girlfriend is rumoured to have “all the sex moves”.
  • When talking about a female character, someone says, “She isn’t that horny, man”.
  • Marcus tells the team that when a certain play is carried out successfully it always gives him a hard-on. One of the team mates then asks if he will get a hard-on too?
  • When the play does not go successfully, Marcus tells one of the guys that, “I think my dick just evaporated”.
  • Marcus tells Johnny to make sure he showers his “undercarriage”.
  • Alex tells Marcus that he is passable in bed.
  • When a certain play goes well one of the teammates asks, “Did that give you an erection coach?” To which Marcus replied, “I am rock hard”.
  • Alex and Marcus make a deal to have sex after away games.
  • Alex’s mother hints that she knows what Marcus and her daughter are up to and then later openly announces that they are sleeping together. To which Johnny incredulously asks, “You and coach are doing sex moves?! You’re having sex?”.
  • Alex proclaims that she is a grown woman who can have sex.
  • A character says to, “Hold on to my dick and balls”.
  • When Marcus shows up at Alex’s house, her mother asks him if he is there for an afternoon “quickie”. Alex is horrified but Marcus asks if the quickie thing is on the menu.
  • A character says that he was scared the first time he had a three-way, but that it was good.
  • Marcus says that he doesn’t want to be a fig leaf covering all the dicks.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Marcus is seen shirtless, in bed, while Alex rummages around him in a skirt and bra collecting her panties and getting dressed after a one night stand.
  • Alex and Marcus kiss on the couch while she lies on top of him. She is later shown wrapped in a sheet.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Marcus drinks in a pub and then gets behind the wheel where he runs a red light and then crashes into a police car.
  • Marcus later admits to still drinking occasionally.
  • Marcus finds out that a drunk driver was responsible for the accident that caused Darius’s traumatic brain injury.
  • Marcus gifts a bottle of wine to Alex and Johnny’s mother when he is invited to dinner one evening.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Ass
  • Horse shit
  • Idiot
  • Fuck
  • Hell
  • Bastards
  • Dickweed
  • Asshole
  • Troll
  • Retard
  • Kicking ass
  • Damn
  • Son of bitch
  • Dumb
  • Jackass
  • Dick(s)
  • Bullshit
  • Fuck
  • Shitty and shit; and
  • Alex repeatedly gives Marcus the middle finger.

In a nutshell

Champions is a sports comedy that is well cast. While it has a predictable plot, the authentic characters lend a lot of heart to the film. This is not a family film but one that will best be enjoyed by older teens and mature audiences.

The main messages from this movie are that we should not be afraid to fail and that we should not be afraid to lose but we should only be afraid of never having tried in the first place; and that true champions are those who face their fears, who face ignorance and judgement and who are able to rise above it.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Teamwork
  • Compassion
  • Forgiveness
  • Courage
  • Persistence
  • Empathy.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Drink driving and the lasting effects of poor choices.
  • Being overprotective of those who would like to live their own lives, even if that life doesn’t look like yours.
  • Exploiting people with disabilities.
  • Looking at people in a certain way or believing them to be insignificant due to a disability.
  • Making sensible and mature relationship choices.