A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Clear lessons about teamwork and leadership. Your actions have consequences. Recurring theme of managing the grief and guilt that come with an accidental death.
Positive Role Models
Coach Murphy leads his team not only to win races but also to lead successful lives; he won't bend to his superiors' selfish demands. Most of the crew members are aspirational, putting in grueling effort to find unity and victory as a team. Studying is shown to be a priority among several of the key characters. That said, they also drink heavily, which has consequences.
The ensemble cast is mostly White -- accurately reflecting an Ivy League rowing crew in 1999 -- but primary characters include an Asian-American leading man and a Black female student who aspires to be a Rhodes scholar (but unfortunately is given no more depth or personality beyond being a pretty face). The way male characters behave and display their emotions is, in many cases, drawn from gender stereotypes.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Fistfights, with punches thrown. Aggression/mean behavior results in tragedy. A young man slips into bed with a young woman who's passed-out drunk, but he doesn't touch her.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Kissing. Several "morning after" scenes show couples lying in bed, implying that they had sex. A streaker's full backside is shown (hands covering his front).
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Strong language includes "ass," "bitch," "bulls--t," "goddamn," and a single use of "f--king" as an adverb. Name calling. Middle-finger gesture.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Crew members often wear shirts with Adidas and Reebok labels, implying likely product placement.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Binge drinking and partying among aspirational college students is portrayed as a fun part of college life. But in every instance, viewers see that drinking does have negative ramifications, both big and small.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Heart of Champions (also known as Swing) is a college sports drama with clear messages about teamwork and leadership. The recurring theme is about managing the grief and guilt that come with an accidental death. While the ensemble cast is mostly White -- accurately reflecting an Ivy League crew in 1999 -- Asian-American Chris (Charles Melton) is the main character, and he falls for Nisha (Ash Santos), a smart Black aspiring Rhodes scholar. College life for the rowing team includes both hard work and silliness, like streaking: One young man is seen completely bare, albeit covering his genitals with his hands. There's also quite a bit of partying in the form of frequent heavy drinking, which consistently has consequences. Characters kiss, and some scenes indicate the "morning after" with a couple lying in bed together, covered by sheets. Occasional profanity includes "s--t" and one use of "f--king." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Considering that learning to work together seamlessly is its subject, it's ironic that this rowing drama sinks because it feels disjointed. The story is solid and the path, if unpredictable, offers meaningful, visceral lessons in leadership and teamwork. But the writing is subpar. At one point, it verges on insulting: Nisha, the romantic interest for two of the crew members, is given no more depth or personality than being a pretty face. And, defying all logic, when she receives an apology from her ex after months of harassment, she proceeds to sets him up with her best friend, who seems delighted and promptly sleeps with him. (Ah, men writing women.)
Other than the great Shannon (who blinks with magnitude), the acting is uneven: Alexander Ludwig overdoes it as a high energy, sarcastic jerk, and Melton's brooding reduces a multifacted character down to one note. The camerawork lacks cohesiveness: Scenes with Shannon are excellent, but those of just the crew don't match, as if a second unit handled filming with inconsistent direction. The strong, clear lessons in teamwork and leadership buoy this sports drama a bit, but, in failing to take its own advice, the whole endeavor ultimately capsizes.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.