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The Winning Season Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 40

    out of 100

    The New York Times Stephen Holden

    Gets lost in a fog of indecision and compromise.

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  • 50

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    Among the girls, Emma Roberts has solid scenes with Rockwell.

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  • 60

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times

    Often lacks momentum, especially in its early stretches. It is, however, a far more solid film than writer-director James C. Strouse's debut, the war-themed family drama "Grace Is Gone."

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  • 60

    out of 100

    Village Voice Melissa Anderson

    Writer-director James C. Strouse's The Winning Season respects its misfits (and its audience) by not stripping away their foibles in the service of sports-movie clichés.

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  • 70

    out of 100

    Variety Justin Chang

    With an invaluable assist from Sam Rockwell, hilarious and wounding as a deadbeat dad who lands a high school coaching gig, it's the rare inspirational movie with more than just winning or losing on its mind.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Quirky indie sports flick is surprisingly serious, moving.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this indie sports dramedy stars former tween star Emma Roberts (Unfabulous, Hotel for Dogs), but it's more age-appropriate for teens. There's some mild violence (a courtside brawl, with a couple of punches and some pushing/shoving), more language than expected (including both swear words like "s--t" and "a--hole" and racial epithets like "wetback"), and the requisite adolescent sexuality -- which includes some kissing in a convertible and an inappropriate relationship between an older shoe salesman and one of the 17-year-old players. The coach -- who's frequently drunk -- has huge problems with his own daughter and a recurring fascination with the assistant coach's sexuality. The girls try to score a drink in one scene.

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about what it means to be part of a team. How do the girls have to put their individual differences aside to be a successful team? How do they improve as the season progresses?
  • The movie has persistent discussions of sexuality and ethnicity. How are they handled? What lessons are learned about making assumptions based on stereotypes?
  • What are the consequences of drinking in the movie? Do you think they're realistic?

The good stuff
  • message true1

    Messages: Toward the very end of the movie, there are positive messages about teamwork, cooperation, and rising above differences to achieve a common goal. A girl who once made jokes about Mexicans ends up defending her Mexican teammate. Another girl who always attends her boyfriend's games stands up for herself and asserts that relationships require reciprocated support.

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Although the coach is a negative role model at first, he's also a positive influence in the girls' lives. The girls all learn not only to play better but to be more comfortable with themselves. The girls also teach the coach not to be so sexist or to make throwaway comments or assumptions about girls. The assistant coach is a great role model for showing the girls that being part of a team is significant and will, win or lose, mean a great deal to all of them for the rest of their lives.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence: Trash-talking at a game leads to a brawl (one punch, plus pushing and shoving) on the basketball court. The coach punches and pushes a much older guy who's dating one of his players.

  • sex false2

    Sex: One of the players is involved with a much older guy and is shown holding hands and making out with him. Another player has a boyfriend; they kiss in his car. The coach tells a player she's not his type because he likes "big t-ts" and an "onion ass" (which he describes as "an ass that makes you want to cry"). There's consistent speculation about the assistant coach's sexuality, and one of the players questions her own sexuality because of how she feels toward an opposing player.

  • language false3

    Language: Fairly frequent use of words like "bitch," "a--hole," "p---y," and "s--t" by high-school students and adults. In a couple of scenes, racial slurs are said to a Mexican-American student. Other words include "t-ts," "ass," and more.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The coach is a huge drinker. At one point, he's so drunk that he gets pulled over for driving under the influence. The girls try to score a drink in one scene.