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Parents' Guide to

12 Mighty Orphans

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Corny, uneven sports drama has good cast, strong language.

Movie PG-13 2021 118 minutes
12 Mighty Orphans Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 12+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 13+

Predictable with expected twists

The feel good football drama. A tried and true tradition. I am a sucker for Necessary Roughness (1991), Remember the Titans (2000)...not so much (good film, but not necessarily in my wheelhouse. This film is definitely in the Remember the Titans vein. The film depicts the violent and difficult hardships these young men experience and how football positively alters their lives. You expect most of the twists and turns but that in no way lessens the journey.
age 12+

Inspiring, Emotional True Story

This movie has all the feels. There is plenty of action, seeing as it IS a football tale. However, this movie goes deeper than just a feel good movie. It deals with the emotions of rejection, abandonment, loss and PTSD and how those things can be overcome through finding something bigger than your hurt. It doesn't end with a perfect storybook ending, but it ends just the way it should. At the end of our showing, the full theater was silent. No one got out of their seats, even after it was just the credits rolling. It seemed like a collective reverence for a great story. I'd rate this an A+.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (2 ):

This corny underdog football drama has decent performances but doesn't quite live up to the inspiring history lesson or deep character study it could have been. Based on sportswriter Jim Dent's same-named book, the movie features the predictable feel-good aspect of most historical sports films: a team of ragtag players, a devoted coach, and all the odds stacked against them. The antagonists -- both Knight's Frank and Garrison's rival coach -- are ridiculously over-the-top, making nonstop cruel comments and coming across as sadistic in their desire to see the orphans completely downtrodden. All that's missing is some exaggerated mustache twirling to make their campy villainy complete. Their performances are so outlandish that it detracts from the dramatic arc of the team's season.

Despite Wilson's and Sheen's standout portrayals, the story doesn't focus enough on the individual players, aside from how Hardy arrives at the orphanage covered in his dead father's blood, or when Wheatie's unstable mother appears and starts slapping him. Several players barely get any lines, notably the two Latino boys who are present but kept completely in the background. Audiences learn more about these players at the end when photos of their real counterparts pop up on-screen. Even Rusty's character, whom we learn was an orphan himself, isn't as fully developed as other famous movie coaches. It's hard to decipher what really happened (reportedly, the movie condenses into one season what it took nearly a decade for Coach Russell to build, and it's unlikely that President Roosevelt would've been that invested in Texas football policies), but the movie may successfully compel audiences to learn more about the scrappy orphans who defied the odds both on and off the field.

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