Movie Review: With a star studded cast putting in career best performances, National Champions isn't Just a Touchdown, It's a Blowout
From the early days of film, pop culture has been over-inundated with cute, cookie cutter, feel-good sports films. Thankfully, National Champions is not one of those movies. The film doesn't just ignore the book for formulaic sports films, it tears it up and throws it away.
Directed by Ric Roman Waugh (Angel Has Fallen) from a script by Adam Mervis, National Champions follows Heisman trophy winning quarterback LeMarcus James (Stephen James) three days before a huge national championship in New Orleans. Long time coach and father figure James Lazor (brilliantly played by JK Simmons) gets caught up in the mix when LeMarcus and his best friend and teammate Emmett Sunday (Alexander Ludwig) go missing from their high end hotel to boycott the game. LeMarcus has a short list of demands which all come down to the multi billion dollar NCAA ceasing their exploitation of the free labor of college athletes.
Obviously, this registers through collegiate sports like an earthquake, setting off a wave of events from a media firestorm to professional players sounding off to collegiate athletes deciding which side they're on. Of course, it also draws the attention of the highest ranks of the NCAA and their partners, feverishly hoping to put out the fire before the biggest game of the year.
The cast is at their career best and additionally includes Kristin Chenoweth (check out my interview with Kristin) as Coach Lazor's wife Bailey, Lil Rey Howery as Assistant Coach Dunn, Jeffery Donovan as NCAA official Mike Titus, Andrew Bachelor as Taylor and multi-Emmy winning Uzo Aduba as the hard as nails fixer, Katherine. Every performance in National Champions is a head turning class in power acting and each character is developed enough to let the pitch perfect cast shine in their own right.
National Champions is easily one of the best films of 2021 with an impeccable cast featuring powerhouse performances that are bound to be dominating the awards circuit. No matter if you're a fan of sports movies, dramatic films or just like to watch a masterclass in acting and storytelling, you'll want to see this tense, dramatic nail biter with real, human stakes that will leave you on the edge of your seat. National Champions is not just a touchdown, it's a full on blowout.