Winning Favor

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
Winning Favor Movie Poster Image
Faith-based teen b-ball movie is heavy-handed, amateurish.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 69 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

This film is intended to entertain and inspire, not educate.

Positive Messages

This film promotes, through talk and example, the importance of teamwork and faith in God in achieving goals. Selflessness for the greater good is also shown and discussed.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Inspired by the positive examples of their kids, the parents of a basketball team institute a plan in which they cheer and support all the kids of the team just as much as they would their own child. Inspired by scripture, the coach of the basketball team learns to tone down his short temper, and inspires the players on his team by having them write a mission statement. One of the players, after learning that he will not be starting, quits the team, but learns to set aside his ego for the common good.

Violence & Scariness

A grandmother is shown suffering a brain hemorrhage while alone in her home. She is shown falling in her kitchen while trying to get to her phone.

Sexy Stuff

While discussing their goals for their team, one of the high school basketball players talks of how he wants to "kick some ass."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A reference is made to high school basketball players going to a place called "Bob's Whiskey Road House" after attending their high school's female basketball team. There is no drinking involved, but the place is mentioned several times.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Winning Favor is a 2012 faith-based movie from the Dove Foundation about an Iowa high school basketball team applying their dreams, faith, and hard work toward victory both on and off the court. While many of the values promoted in the movie are universal, those who are looking for more of a straight-forward sports movie without excessive preachiness will be turned off by the heavy-handed presentation of faith and spirituality and the amateurish production values and acting. However, for Christian parents -- especially those with athletic children -- this movie, based on a true story, shows religious faith put into practice. 

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What's the story?

In the small community of Orange City, Iowa, high school basketball is second only to faith in God. In the summer of 1994, four boys growing up there make a vow to take their high school team to the state championships by the time they graduate from high school in 2005. While Mike and Eddie go to the Christian high school, Chris and Drew go to the rival high school and keep their goal in mind as they try and take their team, the Dutchmen, to State. The Dutchmen's coach (Mathew Ashford), frustrated by his short temper and the growing concerns of parents and others in the community that the Dutchmen will never win it all, turns to scripture, and encourages his team to craft their own mission statements, inspired by their dreams and their faith. Meanwhile, Chris, despondent over no longer being a starter, quits the team. It's up to Chris, with the help of his family, to set aside his ego for the good of the team, and it's up to the Dutchmen to put their faith and dreams into practice in order to win the Iowa State Championships.

Is it any good?

The values espoused in this movie are generally positive and universal regardless of one's religious faith. But the amateurish production values and acting in WINNING FAVOR make this a difficult movie to watch, especially for those hoping for more of a basketball-themed movie and less of a faith-based film. Also, there's very little in the way of actual basketball games shown in the movie; the championship game is summarized -- over and done with in less than a minute. The teen boys in the film barely, if at all, stand out from one another; only Chris, who quits the team after being told by the coach that he won't be starting, has the chance to emerge from the rest of his friends.

However, for those looking for a faith-based sports movie set in a high school basketball-crazed small Midwestern town, this should prove an inspirational and worthwhile movie that shows the good that can happen when people focus on goals rooted in their faith.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sports movies. What similarities and differences do you see between this and other sports-centered movies?

  • How were faith and Biblical principles put into practice by the team and community in the movie?

  • Do you think there was enough actual basketball being played in the movie? Why or why not?

Movie details

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For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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