A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
We must be "our brother's keeper": Those with status and power must look out for and protect others in vulnerable positions. The plot is about critical thinking and how we must re-examine institutions and accepted practices from all perspectives, not just accept "the way it's always been." Argues that college football players should be compensated.
Positive Role Models
Main character demonstrates what it means to be a leader, demonstrating the courage and perseverance needed to make a stand and putting his own career and personal dreams second to helping others. Characters also show teamwork, empathy, and other character strengths.
Racially diverse characters; positive depictions of people of color. Smart, strategic, Black main character LaMarcus is a leader in a position of power; his right-hand man is a White student athlete with a background of socio-economic struggle. LaMarcus' top adversary is an empowered Black woman (an attorney) who isn't a villain but rather sees things from a different perspective. An affluent gay man holds a position of esteem and influence in the collegiate football space.
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Violence & Scariness
Verbal references to an act of violence in the past with legal consequences. Inference of a death via suicide.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Passionate kissing with implied sex. Very low-cut dress. Infidelity.
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Pervasive strong language, including "f--k," "ass," "bulls--t," "c--k," "goddamnit," "hell," "piss," "p---y," "s--t," "son of a bitch," and "stupid." Crude sexual terminology used in a nonsexual sense, like "circle jerk" and "d--k sucking." "Jesus Christ!" and "for Christ's sake!" used as exclamations.
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Products & Purchases
Brands, particularly Snickers and Pizza Hut, are featured heavily, implying likely product placement. Plot emphasizes the unfairness of NCAA coaches and leaders being paid millions of dollars and having lives of luxury compared to the student athletes.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Drinking and smoking pot. Reference to cocaine use, including by the main character.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that National Champions is a sports drama executive produced by NFL star Russell Wilson that examines the college student athlete pay debate. But don't gear up for gridiron action: The only game actually played in the film is the one of chicken between the NCAA and the athletes. The movie is more about critical thinking, collective action, and re-examining the long-standing rules of not paying college athletes beyond scholarships and room and board. It has strong economic and racial diversity, including a Black main character who leverages his influence to look out for other student-athletes, even if it could cost him everything. A side plot involves an affair and features sexual situations. There's heavy drinking at a party, and a character smokes pot. Expect lots of profanity and crude language throughout ("c--k," "f--k," and much more). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Sorry, football fans: It's all talk and no pigskin in this debate-sparking sports drama. It's true that many of the greatest sports films are more about the characters' heart, emotion, and struggle than they are about the actual competition. But director Ric Roman Waugh punts on delivering any athletic payoff here -- there's zero game play. This examination of whether student athletes should be paid for putting their bodies on the line in exchange for scholarships and training to compete for lucrative professional contracts is all about the legal strategies involved in trying to get the other side to play (figurative) ball.
Executive produced by NFL star Russell Wilson, the film's argument for why college football players should be compensated is well covered, even comparing the current system to modern enslavement (it posits that student athletes risk injury for "free" in hopes of getting one of the few pro spots, while coaches, colleges, and the NCAA rake in billions of dollars). In one passionate but brief speech, the other side's perspective is presented; it has impact, but it doesn't offer a full picture. Combined with poor audio quality drowning in a bass-thumping score and perhaps the worst rallying speech given by a coach in sports film history, National Champions feels more like a how-to guide meant to prod top-level student athletes into action than it does entertainment.
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.