Notification Settings

Subscribe to one or all notification sources from this one place.


Subscribe to our newsletter to get the day's top stories sent directly to you.

Film Talk: Latest Movie Releases – Woody's back on court and hoping for a slam-dunk

The eyes of the planet are fixed on Hollywood as we get ready for the biggest night in the movie-world calendar.

White men can in fact jump: Woody Harrelson is back in his basketball zone as Marcus alongside Cheech Marin as Julio in Champions
White men can in fact jump: Woody Harrelson is back in his basketball zone as Marcus alongside Cheech Marin as Julio in Champions

This Sunday, the 95th Academy Awards are set to take Tinseltown by storm, with heavyweight-hitters Everything Everywhere All at Once, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Banshees of Inisherin leading the charge with more nominations than you can shake a stick at.

Following his exceptional performance in The Whale, Brendan Fraser is no doubt awaiting the Best Actor reveal with baited breath, while Austin Butler has his eyes set firmly on the same prize after getting all shook up in Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. After fantastic turns in Tár and Blonde respectively, Cate Blanchett and Ana De Armas both stand worthy to lift the Best Actress gong – though they are up against the mighty Michelle Yeoh, who in fact stands as the first Asian woman ever to be nominated in the category.

And a special mention must go to the greatest movie music maestro of all time – the immortal John Williams. Nominated this year for his score for The Fabelmans, at age 90 Williams is the oldest competitive nominee in Oscar history.

Good luck to all – we will be watching.

In the midst of the Oscars excitement, this week we’re putting a chap under the spotlight whose lack of a gong despite three past nominations seems an almost ‘DiCaprio-level’ injustice.

Today sees Woody Harrelson get back in a basketball jersey for Bobby Farrelly’s Champions. The man who three decades ago proved that white men most definitely can jump is now stepping into the role of a B-ball coach for this English-language remake of 2018’s Campeones.

But is this one a slam-dunk, or does it simply dribble into the ether? Eyes on court – let’s do this...

CHAMPIONS (12A, 124 mins)

Released: March 10 (UK & Ireland)

Thirty years after Woody Harrelson hustled on a basketball court in White Men Can’t Jump, the Texas-born actor shoots hoops and scores generous laughs in director Bobby Farrelly’s English language remake of the award-winning 2018 Spanish sports comedy Campeones.

Screenwriter Mark Rizzo retains the dramatic arc of the original to challenge discriminatory attitudes head-on but relocates the heartwarming sentiment to snow-laden Iowa replete with an exuberant supporting cast, many of whom make their feature film debuts.

Chumbawamba’s rabble-rousing 1997 anthem Tubthumping, with its defiant chorus (“I get knocked down but I get up again/You’re never gonna keep me down!”), is a fitting musical motif for this empowering sermon about never judging a person by perceived physical or intellectual limitations.

Characters in Rizzo’s script prove doubters wrong, often accompanied by a zinging one-liner.

Harrelson trades on his inherent charm to traverse a predictable path from brash, politically incorrect knucklehead to passionate ally, sparking molten screen chemistry with Kaitlin Olson as a spunky love interest who refuses to let any man have the last word or dictate her destiny.

Unquestionably, she is one of the film’s MVPs along with scene stealer Madison Tevlin as the team’s sole female player, who is asked to assess the attractiveness of Harrelson’s coach.

“You’re no McConaughey,” she sassily responds. Slam dunk. Minor league basketball coach Marcus Marakovich (Harrelson) dreams of promotion to the NBA but his lofty ambitions are dealt a blow when he is fired from the Iowa Stallions after an altercation with head coach Phil Peretti (Ernie Hudson).

Soon after, Marcus drives home under the influence of alcohol and collides with a stationary police car.

Judge Menendez (Alexandra Castillo) sentences him to 90 days’ community service teaching basketball to adults with intellectual disabilities at the Capitol East Recreation Centre managed by Julio (Cheech Marin).

Marcus is painfully close-minded and intolerant of a ragtag team comprising Arthur (Alex Hintz), Darius (Joshua Felder), Blair (Tom Sinclair), Benny (James Day Keith), Cody (Ashton Gunning), Cosentino (Madison Tevlin), Craig (Matthew von der Ahe), Johnny (Kevin Iannucci), Marlon (Casey Metcalfe), Showtime (Bradley Edens) and Sonny (Matt Cook).

The players gradually coalesce and Johnny introduces coach to his actress sister Alex (Olson), who turns out to be the one-night stand that recently exited Marcus’s bedroom with the pithy parting words, “You were fun… and sometimes that’s all a woman can wish for.” Three-pointer.

Champions is an unabashed crowd pleaser with a strong central message of equality and inclusivity that always bears repeating.

Harrelson is the butt of jokes while his fallen hero acquires some long overdue learning about empathy and understanding and the tone noticeably sweetens as his neanderthal evolves into a mouthpiece for participation without prejudice. Farrelly double dribbles between humour and heart-tugging emotion, pandering to genre tropes without divorcing himself entirely from reality.

SCREAM VI (18, 122 mins)

Released: March 10 (UK & Ireland)

Guess who's back, back again? Ghost Face returns in Scream VI

Hayden Panettiere returns to the Scream franchise as plucky Woodsboro survivor Kirby Reed in the first instalment of the blood-soaked series to exceed a two-hour running time.

Directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett, who helmed the 2022 reboot, Scream VI transplants the terror from a fictional California town to the hustle and bustle of New York City where everyone can hear you beg for your life.

High school student Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega), older sister Sam (Melissa Barrera) and the twins Chad (Mason Gooding) and Mindy (Jasmin Savoy Brown) leave behind the most recent killings. They head to the bright lights of the Big Apple, foolishly believing the nightmare is now behind them.

Instead, a new killer in the Ghost Face mask hunts them down in the teeming metropolis, hiding in plain sight in a city where no-one rallies to a neighbour’s blood-curdling cries for help.

Fellow survivors Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and Kirby Reed (Panettiere) are drawn into a deadly game of cat and mice.

65 (12A, 93 mins)

Released: March 10 (UK & Ireland)

Adam Driver stars as Mills in prehistoric sci-fi thriller 65

Two-time Academy Award nominee Adam Driver faces dangerous prehistoric creatures in a futuristic action thriller written and directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods.

Space age pilot Mills (Driver) suffers a catastrophic mechanical failure at the controls of his craft and crash-lands on a mysterious planet.

Armed with limited munitions, he deduces that he is stranded on Earth 65 million years ago when dinosaurs ruled the third rock from the sun and homo sapiens were not part of the food chain.

Mills has one chance of rescue.

He joins forces with fellow survivor Koa (Ariana Greenblatt) to cross perilous terrain and fend off attacks from hulking beasts with razor-sharp teeth.


Released: March 10 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

Winnie-The-Pooh: Blood And Honey

Beloved characters from the Hundred Acre Wood created by AA Milne go on a bloodthirsty rampage in a gory horror thriller written and directed by Rhys Frake-Waterfield, which already has a sequel in the works.

Five years after he abandoned his anthropomorphic pals Winnie-the-Pooh (Craig David Dowsett) and Piglet (Chris Cordell), Christopher Robin (Nikolai Leon) returns to his childhood home with fiancee Mary (Paula Coiz).

They discover the animals have gone feral and eaten Eeyore to survive a harsh winter. More troubling, the critters have developed a deep-rooted hatred of humankind.

Soon after, university students Alice (Amber Doig-Thorne), Jess (Natasha Rose Mills), Lara (Natasha Tosini), Maria (Maria Taylor) and Zoe (Danielle Ronald) rent a cottage in the Hundred Acre Wood, blissfully unaware that a blood-crazed Pooh and Piglet are watching their every move.

MEET ME IN THE BATHROOM (15, 108 mins)

Released: March 10 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

In the early 2000s against the backdrop of the September 11 attacks, a new generation of music artists contributed to the rebirth of New York City, reverberating across the Atlantic and the rest of the world.

Documentary filmmakers Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace, who previously made Shut Up And Play The Hits, painstakingly assemble archive footage and audio interviews to chronicle a time of profound creative expression.

The directors delve into artists’ personal archives and the storage units of passionate New York music fans to unlock a time capsule of interviews, live performances and previously unseen home recordings.

Featured artists include Interpol, LCD Soundsystem, Liars, The Moldy Peaches, The Rapture, The Strokes, TV On The Radio and Yeah Yeah Yeahs.


Released: March 10 (UK & Ireland, selected cinemas)

A teacher living in Bhutan is sent to a remote mountain school in a tender drama written and directed by Pawo Choyning Dorji, which was nominated as best international feature film at last year’s Academy Awards.

Ugyen Dorji (Sherab Dorji) lives with his grandmother (Tsheri Zom) in the capital city of Thimphu, where he pursues dreams of singing for a living and securing a visa to travel to Australia.

In the meantime, Ugyen concentrates half-heartedly on his career as a teacher.

He is posted to the remote village of Lunana to inspire young students high up in the Himalayan glaciers.

Ugyen is distressed to discover a close-knit, yak-herding community without electricity or a blackboard.

Despite the lack of amenities, the teacher is gradually charmed by his students and the warmth of new neighbours.

As a gruelling winter beckons, Ugyen must decide whether to return to the city or remain in Lunana.

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.

Top Stories

More from the Shropshire Star

UK & International News