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That Championship Season (1999)

R | | Drama | TV Movie 6 June 1999
Four former high school basketball champions and their coach come together annually to celebrate the year they won the Pennsylvania State Basketball Championship. But this year, instead of ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
Denise Kaye ...
Claire's Mother
Claire (as Jerri Lynn London)
Nick Risher ...
James, Jr. (as Nicolas Risher)
Jeff Rogers ...
Hammond Basketball Player
Frank Lozano ...
Game Announcer (as Frank Rodriguez)
Louis L. Weiss ...
Old Violin Player


Four former high school basketball champions and their coach come together annually to celebrate the year they won the Pennsylvania State Basketball Championship. But this year, instead of the usual whimsical nostalgia they usually experience, the former friends and teammates unleash all their secrets on each other so that the foundation of their lives begins to crumble. Written by Anonymous

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong language including some sex-related dialogue | See all certifications »


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Release Date:

6 June 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A bajnokok  »

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Did You Know?


The film's source "That Championship Season" play by Jason Miller won a number of key awards in including the Pulitzer Prize in Drama; the Tony Award for Best Play; the New York Drama Critics Circle Award; the Outer Critics Circle Award and the National Summer Stock Award. See more »


Version of That Championship Season (1982) See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent theatre that doesn't translate well to film
21 January 2000 | by (Atlanta) – See all my reviews

This is the second attempt to bring this thought provoking play to the mass market, this time through a TV movie now in rental. Thoreau is quoted as saying: "The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation." This play peels away the layers of self delusion to reveal such desperation in the insecurities, disappointments, unrealized potential and mediocrity of four men and a coach who's lives peaked in high school when they won the state basketball championship.

It is, unfortunately, a depiction too familiar to the many who never escaped their small town or neighborhood and live trying to salvage some feeling of dignity from the mediocrity and despair to which they have allowed their lives to sink.

At the 20th reunion at the coach's house (Paul Sorvino) the characters gradually reveal how pathetic their lives have become. There is the bitter coach, a unabashed bigot who still talks to grown men like they were teenaged basketball players and who believes all of life can be summed up in sports aphorisms.

James (Terry Kinney), a junior high school principal, is by far the most self delusional of the five, clearly a loser who never changed with the times, he believes he has a bright future in politics when he couldn't get elected to a sanitation post.

George (Tony Shalhoub) plays the mayor of Filmore, who has bungled his term in office and will imminently be voted out. He spends most of this time trying to convince himself and everyone else how popular and wonderful he is, when it is clear to everyone that he is a fool.

Phil (Vincent D'Onofrio) is a spoiled little rich boy who inherited his father's business which is now raping the environment for profit. He supports George's campaign so he can get variances that allow him to profit from this abuse.

Tom (a fabulous performance by Gary Sinese) is James brother, a vagabond alcoholic who ironically is the only one who sees the situation with any clarity. He is openly cynical of himself and the others and constantly speaks with justifiable disgust about all his peers and their miserable lives.

The problem with this and most plays that try to go to film is that unless the director adds uniqueness visually, or through the set, location, props or costumes, it just looks like you are watching a play through a window. Since you have lost the power of the live performance, it always loses something in translation.

Sorvino, as the director, failed to do this. He clearly focused on the actors performances (which were all exceptional) and did a brilliant job of recreating a great play on film. That did not make it a great film. It made it seem overly long and tedious. As a play I would give it a 9, as a film a 6.

This is not a film for everyone. One needs to get into a philosophical frame of mind and prepare to see an interesting character study of some very miserable characters. If you are an avid theater goer and can handle a downbeat drama about the failings of common people, I strongly recommend it. Otherwise look for some lighter fare.

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