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Movie review by
Randy White, Common Sense Media
Hoosiers Movie Poster Image
Stirring tale of heroic sportsmanship will inspire families.
  • PG
  • 1986
  • 114 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 8+
Based on 10 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Working to overcome obstacles and redemption are the co-themes of the movie. A tiny farming town's small high school basketball team works its way to becoming improbable state champions. They achieve this by learning to play as a team, as taught by a new coach who has a past and obstacles of his own to overcome. The townspeople learn that change shouldn't always be feared. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

At first the players treat the new coach disrespectfully. As they work with him he earns their loyalty and they earn his respect in return. A teacher who at first greets the coach's arrival with hostility also is persuaded that her first impression was mistaken. The players work hard in practice and stand up for each other and the coach. Characters learn and demonstrate integrity, perseverance, and teamwork.


Several sports melees, including a bench-clearing brawl at the sectional championship game. One such altercation results in a bloody injury that requires eight stitches.


The coach and a teacher kiss.


The coach asks a referee who has made a bad call, "You got pigeon s--t in your eyes?" At another moment of stress, he says, "Ah, Jesus."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A player's father is an alcoholic who shows up at games reeling and nearly incoherent. Although the son loves him, the father's behavior causes his son pain and embarrassment. The father checks into a rehab facility and appears to be straightening himself out by the end of the story.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hoosiers focuses on a tiny farming town's small high school basketball team that becomes an underdog state champion. They achieve this by learning to play as a team, as taught by a new coach (Gene Hackman) who has a past and obstacles of his own to overcome. There's lots of emotional intensity here, of the "who will win?" variety. The movie also deals with alcoholism but features the redemption of two adult leads. There's some swearing, including "s--t" and "Jesus" (as an exclamation). Players get into confrontations during games, including a bench-clearing brawl at the sectional championship. One fight results in a bloody injury that requires stitches. Strong positive messages include not judging a book by its cover, giving people second chances, and the importance of hard work, discipline, and teamwork. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 year old Written byFanner50 January 22, 2011
Good film about a person who sticks to what he believes under tremendous pressure from the towns people to do things differently. Kids play hard and fair, with... Continue reading
Adult Written byjowoho April 9, 2008

A Classic Tale of the Underdog

The story of a coach with a troubled past and an unmotivated team who like to do things their way.
Kid, 10 years old March 31, 2012

Good Review

This movie is great but one thing that suprised me was they didnt put down anything for drinking which I thought was pretty weird since one of the main characte... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 July 22, 2013

Inspirational, with a great Hopper to boot!

This is a fine family film, that shows the dangers of alcohol with one character, the pitiful Hooper in a role that landed him an Oscar nod. Of course the film... Continue reading

What's the story?

HOOSIERS is a stirring movie about teamwork, discipline, and second chances that features exciting basketball action and a meticulous re-creation of 1950s Indiana. Hired to coach a small-town high school team, Norm Dale (Gene Hackman) searches for personal redemption in his quest to lead the underdogs of Hickory High School to victory at the state championships. In a memorable scene, Dale gets a lecture from a group of locals on how things are done in Hickory: You need to be a God-fearing man, you must always set a fine example for the boys, and, more importantly, you mustn't mess with the traditional zone defense. With help from assistant coach Shooter (Dennis Hopper), a recovering alcoholic, Dale and his team surprise everyone in Indiana by making it all the way to the state finals.

Is it any good?

Much more than a sports flick, this is a great movie for families to watch and enjoy together. This slice of Americana conforms to the rules of sports movies but manages to transcend the genre. The barest of plots is fleshed out by an electric Gene Hackman, and the renewal of Dennis Hopper's character -- whose emotional wounds are more openly visible than Hackman's -- smartly doubles the redemption factor.

The writing is strong and wonderfully sly. To its credit, Hoosiers gets the details right, starting with the passion that high school basketball elicits. Even the compulsory practice scenes are played with a fervor and realism that is compelling, and the David-vs.-Goliath aspect gives the movie an extra punch. It occasionally succumbs to sports-movie clichés, such as the line "Aren't you the kind who'd rather look for a fight than run away from one?" and there's an obligatory love subplot. But overall this is an outstanding example of a sports movie with positive lessons and lots of heart.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hoosiers's message. The town initially wants to fire the new coach because he does things differently. Why do so many people fear change? How do you remain open to new possibilities?

  • This film is a classic underdog tale. Why are such stories so popular? Can you think of any other underdog movies?

  • How does the team manage to beat such seemingly insurmountable odds? Which qualities do the teammates share?

  • Families can talk about sports movies. What is appealing about them? Do you ever doubt the outcome? What kinds of feelings do they stir up? How does this one compare to other sports films you've seen?

  • How do the characters in Hoosiers demonstrate integrity, perseverance, and teamwork? Why are those important character strengths?

Movie details

Character Strengths

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Themes & Topics

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