A film in which a character with a disability is also played by an actor or actress with a disability is by no means a matter of course. For the comedy “Because we champions are”, this rare casting principle was realized in team strength. “Four months of scouting and 250 observations in workshops for the disabled, sports clubs and inclusion theaters” as well as a two-month casting were necessary, RTL reports, to find the seven men and a woman who, as an inclusive basketball team, form the comic center of Vox- the movie. Iris Baumüller’s casting agency “Die Besetzer” mastered the unusual task.
The physically or mentally handicapped only play supporting roles in this film. However, these are atypical of the German film and television landscape in several respects: they are active figures, not only in a sporting sense, who take their limitations for granted and as teams almost function as role models without any competitive envy.
In essence, like all people, they are blessed with different qualities, and a short info block presents their independent lives beyond the basketball hobby. In light of the fact that horror is replaced by situation comedy and dialogue jokes, one also accepts one or another sentence that sounds obviously fabricated. Prejudices are turned upside down. Only those who are “not disabled” complain here.
[„Weil wir Champions sind“, Vox, Mittwoch, 20 Uhr 15]
The “meadow foam cicadas,” as the tossed-together basketball team is called, must be taken for granted at first glance. Admittedly, the prejudiced viewer initially has the thought: Can they handle basketball at all? Answer: more or less, but that’s just not the point.
You see big and small, thick and thin people. Two have Down syndrome, one wears head protection, others only realize when they talk that their mental abilities are limited. The only woman joins the ensemble with a delay, but with all the greater effect, which reduces the male predominance somewhat. Whereby: Krafzik (Antonia Riet), of short stature and also born with trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), is in fact the film’s most masculine character, a grossly cursing powerhouse – also a reversal of prevailing ideas.
When they are “normal” they are “wise”.
Of course, it is essential that in such a comedy they are supposedly “normal” in fact the “crazy ones”. The antihero who needs some cleansing is Andreas Ellgut (Wotan Wilke Möhring). After a hassle with his boss, the assistant coach is thrown out of the Bonn Bundesliga team, gets drunk at a bar, damages a police car on the way home and shows zero insight. In addition, his wife (Katharina Schüttler) has just divorced him, and the son (Ben Münchow) is not exactly thrilled as his father seeks shelter with him. His father punished his efforts to gain a foothold as an actor with disregard. Only performance and hard work count for Ellgut. And of course, he mocks politically correct language and whole grain nutrition. Möhring has played more demanding roles.
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In any case, the drop height could not be greater when the judge (Sabine Vitua) ordered him to train the “meadow cicadas”. Things are predictable, but quite entertaining. The German TV production “Weil wir Champions’ mind” is of course not an original invention, but an adaptation of the cinema film “Campeones”, which won a number of awards in Spain in 2018. Especially the refreshing comedy in the socially handicapped performance fetishist Ellgut’s showdown with the team quite different peculiarities were partly taken over one by one. On the other hand, the love story in “Campeones” is more important than in the German adaptation, and in the production of Munich Constantin the finale is also shortened. The happy ending, which pays homage to team spirit and shared experiences, is identical.
While the many basketball scenes are neither sporting nor cinematic revelations, you have a fever with these guys who are likely to relentlessly face all the challenges. Unfortunately, the German TV version is served with a musical accompaniment that makes (not only) commercial productions sound so interchangeable at times.