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Undefeated (2012)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 94
Fresh: 90 | Rotten: 4

It covers familiar sports documentary territory, but Undefeated proves there are still powerful stories to be told on the high school gridiron.


Average Rating: 7.7/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 31 | Rotten: 3

It covers familiar sports documentary territory, but Undefeated proves there are still powerful stories to be told on the high school gridiron.



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Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 5,053

My Rating

Movie Info

Set in the inner-city of Memphis, Undefeated chronicles the Manassas Tigers' 2009 football season, on and off-the-field, as they strive to win the first playoff game in the high school's 110-year history. A perennial whipping boy, in recent decades Manassas had gone so far as to sell their home games to the highest bidder, but that all changed in the spring of 2004 when Bill Courtney, a former high school football coach turned lumber salesman, volunteered to lend a hand. -- (C) Weinstein

Feb 19, 2013


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All Critics (94) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (90) | Rotten (4) | DVD (1)

'Undefeated' is no 'Hoop Dreams', but it's sturdily built and worthwhile.

July 31, 2012 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Undefeated" doesn't have a deep penetration of poverty and race in its playbook, but it does have enough heart to make substantial forward progress.

April 6, 2012 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a surprisingly moving, emotional film, even for those who (like me) know little of football; by its end, you just might be blinking away a few tears.

March 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Volunteer high school coach Bill Courtney says, "Football doesn't build character. Football reveals character." The triumphant sports documentary "Undefeated" proves that it does both.

March 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[A] winning documentary.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[A] stirring, emotional portrait of a high school football team in the impoverished neighborhood of North Memphis, Tenn.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

if you find yourself reaching for the Kleenex during the film's final emotionally charged minutes, you most definitely won't be alone.

June 2, 2013 Full Review Source: The Patriot Ledger
The Patriot Ledger

[E]xtraordinary in how it turns upside-down the typical feel-good, triumph-of-the-underdogs tropes of the subgenre...

November 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Flick Filosopher
Flick Filosopher

A reminder of the power of good in a world where most people get too caught up in superficial matters. A wonderful documentary that will point life's purpose in the right direction.

October 10, 2012 Full Review Source: The Popcorn Junkie
The Popcorn Junkie

Undefeated is far more interested in the resilience of the human spirit than one hundred yards of green turf.

September 27, 2012 Full Review Source: The Aristocrat
The Aristocrat

Undefeated is all heart. Even those who couldn't care less about American Football will find this an affecting story about a man who really gives one hell of a damn.

August 6, 2012 Full Review Source: Film4

It's an affecting and encouraging story.

August 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Observer [UK]
Observer [UK]

Even if you have no interest in American football this is a compelling and inspirational story that brings a tear to the eye.

August 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Express
Daily Express

All eyes are on the ball, while the future screams from the sidelines.

August 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Guardian

Undefeated works the whole macho-sentimental template so vigorously and well it's practically a reflexive response to cry foul, but you'd have to find heroic reserves of cynicism not to care at all about the precarious fortunes of these unformed bruisers.

August 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph
Daily Telegraph

A watchable movie, no question. But perhaps best filed under guilty pleasures.

August 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Financial Times
Financial Times

Can take its place proudly alongside the best in the genre.

August 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Little White Lies
Little White Lies

Gripping, well made and genuinely inspirational documentary that packs a powerful emotional punch, even if some of the scenes seem suspiciously contrived for maximum tear-jerking purposes.

August 1, 2012 Full Review Source: ViewLondon

It may be a film that feels rather than analyses, but Undefeated is a compelling, uplifting experience that can't fail to move even the most US football-phobic.

July 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

This is a valuable story from what one interview subject aptly refers to as the 'have-nots' of one of America's richest sports.

July 25, 2012 Full Review Source: The List
The List

As far as American Football flicks go, it's the closest to touching the greatness of H.G. Bissinger's tome Friday Night Lights and Michael Lewis' The Blind Side.

July 5, 2012 Full Review Source: Quickflix

Not only does the truth set one free but also acknowledging unpleasant realities sometimes makes the platitudes seem like more than something off a locker room poster.

May 26, 2012 Full Review Source: KC Active
KC Active

Where the season takes them, and the entire team, is a satisfying mix of sports-movie uplift and heartbreaking realism.

May 16, 2012 Full Review Source: Capital Times (Madison, WI)
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

In truth, the story that unfolds is better than the filmmakers' sometimes overwrought attempts to frame it ...

April 29, 2012 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

With a story that proves to be heartwarming and predictable, Undefeated mostly plays according to the script familiar in its fiction and nonfiction counterparts.

April 21, 2012 Full Review Source: Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema
Reel Times: Reflections on Cinema

Audience Reviews for Undefeated

Undefeated to my surprise was not cliched and not cheesy. If you have The Blind Side in your mind then get it out, this is genuinely tender and uplifting. Bill Courtney belongs on the 'cinemas greatest heroes' list. What he does is so inspiring, the fact that it is American football doesn't really matter, so if you're not a fan don't worry, I'm certainly not but it didn't matter. It's a film about people, not sport or winning or being the best, just people. It's a great documentary and I can see why it won at the Oscars.
June 27, 2013

Super Reviewer

A coach in a depressed Memphis school inspires his players to be better people and better football players.
This film is inspiring. Yes, it is full of aphorisms and simplistic half-truths, but in a tough world where truth is immutable, half-truths are good substitutes for the whole thing. It's hard to resist getting choked up when Coach Bill informs one of his players about a mysterious benefactor, and the documentary drills in concepts of character and integrity with a frequency that makes these words a happy life's song.
Overall, while I can't drink the Kool-Aid without my eyes open, there's a lot to like, and the documentary effectively presents a man worth admiring in a world that is anything but admirable.
June 5, 2013
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Check in 3/28 at for my review.
March 23, 2013

Super Reviewer

"Undefeated" is a highly involving documentary about the football program at Manassas High School in North Memphis, Tn. Once, it was so bad, they could hardly even win a single game, and were often paid to be the homecoming patsies for wealthier high schools. Then, along comes Bill Courtney, a local businessman, to volunteer as head coach and they start to turn things around. After a couple of years, they win four games in a season and sensing the potential a talented group of eighth graders decide to stick around instead of transferring. Four years later, of the players, even with academic problems O.C. has a chance to get an athletic scholarship to a university while Chavis has definite issues.

Unlike other sports documentaries, "Undefeated" is less interested in the team winning, although admittedly there is plenty of that. What the documentary does so well is getting to the issues lying just underneath the surface that often have more to do with class than with race. With these kids, it is not so much a lack of a father but a lack of any kind of social safety net for them, as there is actually an excellent case for high school sports made here. So, it is lucky for the school district that there are dedicated volunteers like Bill Courtney who go beyond the call of duty to mentor his players. The challenges he faces begin in his opening monologue where he gives a list of the players lost to the program and why.
June 22, 2014
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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