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Head Games (2012)


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 34
Fresh: 30
Rotten: 4

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 13
Fresh: 10
Rotten: 3

Critics Consensus: No consensus yet.


Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 394


Movie Info

From acclaimed director Steve James, Head Games is a revealing documentary about the silent concussion crisis in American sports. Athletes from the professional to the youth levels share their personal struggles in dealing with the devastating and long-term effects of concussions, an epidemic fueled by the 'leave everything on the field' culture so prominent in American sport. Inspired by events from the book 'Head Games' written by former Ivy League Football Player and WWE Wrestler Christopher … More

PG-13 (for thematic elements involving sports violence and injuries)
Documentary , Sports & Fitness , Special Interest
Directed By:
Written By:
Christopher Nowinski
In Theaters:
Box Office:
Variance Films - Official Site

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Critic Reviews for Head Games

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (4)

It's solid and interesting work in the main, but Head Games can't help but feel like a come-down after The Interrupters.

Full Review… | September 28, 2012
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

Director Steve James centers this documentary on Nowinski, but there are affecting profiles of various NFL and NHL veterans who are living with the damage -- or may have died from it.

Full Review… | September 27, 2012
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The documentary by Steve James paints a devastating picture of the long-term consequences of head injuries among pro NFL players.

Full Review… | September 27, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

One of the more fascinating aspects of a thoroughly entertaining movie is how incomprehensible James' proposed changes are in a country where many would list their necessities as food, shelter and Monday Night Football.

Full Review… | September 21, 2012
Top Critic

Finally, there's a sports movie for people who are caught between admiration and fear of athleticism.

Full Review… | September 21, 2012
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

"Head Games" gains credibility and power from compassion for athletes and respect for their accomplishments. But it also tries to open the eyes of sports lovers to dangers that have too often been minimized and too seldom fully understood.

Full Review… | September 20, 2012
New York Times
Top Critic

The film struggles with the contradiction of knowing the serious risks while enjoying the games as participant and spectator.

Full Review… | February 4, 2013
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

The film paints a dire picture that will strike fear into the hearts of many parents. How many concussions are too many? The documentary suggests the magic number might be one.

Full Review… | December 13, 2012
Movie Metropolis

A bit more palatable than most "let me teach you a lesson"-style non-fiction films.

Full Review… | November 16, 2012
Antagony & Ecstasy

It's exciting to watch big, powerful guys bash into each other, and a well-executed hit makes an excellent addition to any highlight reel. The problem is that the human brain is not designed to absorb repeated impact.

Full Review… | October 16, 2012

There may not be a more important documentary release this year for the general health of (especially sports-playing) American kids than Head Games, an impactful look at the trauma inflicted by repeated concussions.

Full Review… | October 14, 2012

If you have children involved in contact sports, you must see 'Head Games.'

Full Review… | October 5, 2012
Boston Herald

Players risk their health and their very lives, in futures hard to imagine when they're eight or 12 or 24. Head Games means to change those futures, for players and sports alike.

Full Review… | October 4, 2012

It's certainly wholesome food for thought for anyone with kids in sports.

Full Review… | October 3, 2012
National Post

Its steady, methodical style, however, does justice to its overall aim, which is to touch a nerve that has been desensitized by the media's valorization of athletes as tough guys.

Full Review… | October 3, 2012
The Grid

Seeing former NHL star Keith Primeau's teenage son light up to talk about how fighting is "pretty fun" gives us the conclusion the statistics can't yet provide: before the games can change, we need to.

Full Review… | October 2, 2012
Boston Phoenix

You'll feel like you need a helmet in the theater.

Full Review… | September 28, 2012
Time Out Chicago

I have two young boys, and when they express interest in playing sports, it will be impossible not to remember what I learned from this film.

Full Review… | September 28, 2012

James is primarily concerned about bringing awareness, and he does so with an intelligent presentation of the best data available and genuine concern.

Full Review… | September 27, 2012
Mark Reviews Movies

Asserts this as a problem that isn't going away and, especially for those who suffer from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is virtually guaranteed to get worse.

Full Review… | September 27, 2012

[Head Games] owes more to Michael Moore's advocacy work than D.A. Pennebaker's cinema verite style, but in its own way, it's just as powerful a portrait of what sports mean to the people who play them.

Full Review… | September 24, 2012
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Sobering look at how concussions affect athletes, from the director of Hoop Dreams.

Full Review… | September 24, 2012
Film Journal International

This hard-hitting documentary issues a wake-up call for safety improvements in all sports where head injuries are common.

Full Review… | September 22, 2012
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for Head Games


A must see for sports fans and anyone who's curious about the effects of concussions.

Wu Chouin

Super Reviewer

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