A great sports movie needs to have three things: an unsung hero, a heart-stopping victory and an inspirational message. I am happy to report that this movie has those thee components. And fortunately, great acting and compelling subplots are not a requirement for a great sports film.

As GM of the Cleveland Browns, Sonny Weaver Jr. (Kevin Costner) has a lot on his plate. His secret co-worker girlfriend, Ali (Jennifer Garner), is unexpectedly pregnant. His work relations are strained after he was forced to fire his own father as head coach and hire the mouthy Coach Penn (Denis Leary); plus, it’s draft day. Sonny has less than 12 hours to come up with the team he wants, while, at the same time, appeasing the Browns’ spotlight-seeking owner, Anthony Molina (Frank Langella).

Other than the handful of main characters, the acting is atrocious. The charming appeal of having actual sports personalities (and Sean Combs) play small roles and cameos is outweighed by the lead-worded drag the performances create. Keep an eye on actor Josh Pence, who plays hotshot quarterback Bo Callahan: I see a big career in his future. Despite the overall acting and the less-than-compelling subplot involving Sonny’s personal life, the film is terrific. It’s smart, engaging, uplifting. It’s great for all ages. It’s an 8.

More Arts & Entertainment articles.