(director: Bobby Farrelly; screenwriters: Mark Rizzo/based on the Spanish film ‘Campeones’ by Javier Fesser, David Marques; cinematographer: Kim Miles; editor: Julie Garces; music: Michael Franti; cast: Woody Harrelson (Marcus), Kaitlin Olson (Alex), Cheech Marin (Julio), Ernie Hudson (Coach Phil Perretti, Matt Cook (Sonny), Madison Tevlin (Cosentino), Joshua Felder (Darius), Kevin Iannucci (Johnny), Ashton Gunning (Cody), Matthew Von Der Ahe (Craig), Tom Sinclair (Blair), James Day Keith (Benny), Alex Hintz (Arthur), Casey Metcalfe (Marion), Bradley Edens (Showtime); Runtime: 123; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Paul Brooks/Jeremy Plager/Scott Niemeyer; Focus Features; 2023)

“If you must see a feel-good sports film comedy, you might as well see this one–you won’t break out in a rash over it.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Bobby Farrelly (“There’s Something About Mary”/”Kingpin”) makes his debut as a solo director. He’s the brother of Peter, his co-director in Dumb and Dumber. Bobby directs this snappy feel-good sports film comedy using the formulaic underdog story as plot and it turns out to be a real crowd-pleaser. It’s written by Mark Rizzo, who bases it on the 2018 Spanish film ‘Campeones’ by Javier Fesser and David Marques.

It’s a Bad News Bears type of film, just not quite as good as those franchise films (though better than the one in Tokyo with Tony Curtis). The judge gives Marcus a choice of jail or 90 days of community service to manage a team of young players, called Friends, whose players have intellectual disabilities, in the Special Olympics. He, of course, chooses the coaching punishment.

The familiar story will tell us this assignment makes the Woody character a better person when his excited but untalented players shower him with love and he returns their love, as he successfully teaches them to play the game as best they could.

The dude must also face again the older sister named Alex (Kaitlin Olson), of one of his players, whom he had a one-night stand with that was a bummer. I’ll let you guess how this relationship goes for the likable coach, who relishes ‘second chances.’

There are funny bits when the newest team member, Cosentino (Madison Tevlin), disses him and puts him in his place.

The team members, a few with prior acting experience, are ten young disabled actors (Joshua Felder, Kevin Iannucci, Ashton Gunning, Matthew Von Der Ahe, Tome Sinclair, James Day Keith, Alex Hintz, Casey Metcalfe, Bradley Edens, and Tevlin). They all do a nice job and help make it a pleasant watch.

If you must see a feel-good sports film comedy, you might as well see this one–you won’t break out in a rash over it.