A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Underdogs is a formulaic 2013 drama that culminates in the Big Game between the winning football team of a wealthy and powerful Ohio high school and the small, slow, losing team that is just starting to win under the guidance of a new coach. Expect the usual game-time football violence and use of the word "damn." A teenage boy and girl kiss.
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What's the story?
The Knights, a losing high school football team, are small, slow, and unmotivated to win. New coach Vince, whose father coached in the NFL, is tough and fair, and, through the usual movie-world techniques of unvarnished judgment and sensitive support, he coaxes the undersized underachievers to their first spot in the state playoffs in 20 years. Quarterback Bobby's dad, Bill, is having trouble at work. He offers his new invention to his wealthy and powerful boss, Mr. Handon, the area's biggest local employer. When it's turned down and Bill finds another buyer, Handon fires Bill and sues him, financially threatening Bobby's family. As payback, Handon sets his son, quarterback of the state champions, in a charity match-up against Bobby's team, the much improved Knights, for a battle seemingly pitting good against evil.
Is it any good?
As yet another in a long line of movies about bad (fill-in-the-blank) sports teams finding the inspiration to finally win, UNDERDOGS gets the job done without much flair. Still, the filmmakers do a satisfying job of presenting the clichéd movie about losers who gain self-respect and drive when a tough but compassionate coach lifts them up to full potential. Although it's inspired by true events, its real inspiration comes from same-old, same-old formulas used in dozens of earlier movies. Character development is minimal, and subplots are straightforward. Neither adds much to the movie's complexity.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Underdogs adheres to the formula of many other sports movies in which new coaches administer tough love and help losing teams overcome weaknesses. Based on that formula, did you know who would win the Big Game at the end? Would you have created a different ending?
A seeming bad guy performs a nice gesture at the end of the movie. Does the movie want you to change your mind about him? Do you think people can change their ways?
A trash-talking quarterback has a wealthy father who takes advantage of his position and power. Do you think the movie wants to make the point that children learn how to be good or bad people from the examples their parents set? Do you think that is true? Why, or why not?
- In theaters: August 8, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: January 14, 2014
- Cast: D.B. Sweeney, William Mapother, Richard Portnow, Logan Huffman
- Director: Doug Dearth
- Studio: Freestyle Digital Media
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: for some language
- Last updated: September 4, 2020
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