Metascore
71

Generally favorable reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 25 out of 29
  2. Negative: 1 out of 29
  1. Reviewed by: Shawn Levy
    Mar 29, 2012
    91
    Undefeated puts us inside his locker room, and you simply cannot fail to be moved by the human affection, commitment and passion you feel there.
  2. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Feb 16, 2012
    90
    Undefeated is a genuine crowd-pleaser, a rousing and inspirational flowers-in-the-junkyard fable of hope and possibility in grim circumstances.
  3. Reviewed by: Ann Hornaday
    Mar 1, 2012
    88
    Absorbing, inspiring and terrifically entertaining, Undefeated earns its title: It's a winner all the way.
  4. Reviewed by: Roger Ebert
    Feb 29, 2012
    88
    Undefeated is an emotional and effective film.
  5. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Feb 16, 2012
    88
    Deftly balancing the students' stories with that of Courtney's, the film creates a fully rounded portrait of a corner of America rarely examined.
  6. Reviewed by: Peter Rainer
    Feb 17, 2012
    83
    I wish the directors had emphasized more of the players' personal lives apart from the football field. But, in the end, this is a documentary about Courtney and the transformative powers of caring. He works wonders on his players and they reciprocate.
  7. Reviewed by: Owen Gleiberman
    Feb 15, 2012
    83
    For a documentary that's almost engineered to lift your heart, Undefeated is very well done.
  8. Reviewed by: Manohla Dargis
    Feb 16, 2012
    80
    While Undefeated travels well-tilled inspirational ground, it's also an irresistible story of football, faith and the lust for happily-ever-after black-and-white endings.
  9. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Feb 16, 2012
    80
    The ultimate praise given to sports movies is always, "Even if you don't care about sport X, you'll care about these characters," and that's certainly true of Undefeated (I don't, and I did).
  10. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Feb 16, 2012
    80
    Like all memorable sports documentaries - Undefeated is really an examination not of how games are won and lost but how lives are lived, how young people faced with daunting challenges come to see, often in the most dramatic fashion, what is important going forward and what is not.
  11. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Feb 16, 2012
    80
    There are plenty of unexpected moments within this stirring film, but it's no surprise at all that it's been tapped to compete for a Best Documentary Oscar next Sunday.
  12. Reviewed by: Alison Willmore
    Feb 16, 2012
    80
    Its triumphs are bittersweet, but they're irresistible.
  13. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Feb 14, 2012
    80
    Moments like these turn the documentary Undefeated into a far greater thing than a real-life "The Blind Side" - it's diving deeply into knotty matters of patience and parenting, along with plenty of unfixables as well.
  14. Reviewed by: David Rooney
    Feb 14, 2012
    80
    It's impossible not to root for these guys, or to leave Undefeated without feeling enormously moved by the experience of their joys and disappointments.
  15. Reviewed by: Joe Leydon
    Feb 14, 2012
    80
    Enjoyably upbeat and intelligently inspiring.
  16. Reviewed by: Mark Keizer
    Feb 7, 2012
    80
    It's a stirring mix of sports and human drama that exudes an almost earthy sense of genuineness.
  17. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 6, 2012
    75
    Unlike the benchmark sports documentary "Hoop Dreams," 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.
  18. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Mar 1, 2012
    75
    Undefeated is filled with wonderful narratives, which impressed academy voters enough to garner an Academy Award this week. It's a credit to directors Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Daniels that the personal stories of the kids and coaches resonate more than the wins and losses.
  19. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Mar 1, 2012
    75
    Undefeated is undeniably inspirational stuff.
  20. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Feb 15, 2012
    75
    It's common for coaches to take roles as father figures on a high-school and college level, but Undefeated gets into how that dynamic works on both ends, as Courtney seeks to salve the pain of his family history.
  21. Reviewed by: Mary Pols
    Feb 17, 2012
    70
    Undefeated is well-edited by director Daniel Lindsay and beautifully photographed by his co-director T.J. Martin - the shacks of North Memphis look poetically disheveled as shot from a moving car - but it is telling that the coach emerges as the "star" of this documentary.
  22. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Apr 4, 2012
    67
    Even though the film relies on many of the clichés of the form, Undefeated is a masterfully crafted work that honestly scores a touchdown.
  23. Reviewed by: Wesley Morris
    Mar 15, 2012
    63
    The movie charts its nine-game winning streak and post-season. If there's a problem, it's that there are too few moments like that one with Chavis in the locker room.
  24. 63
    Compared to many of last year's documentaries (Pina, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, Cave of Forgotten Dreams or The Interrupters), this film is distinctly minor league. But it does provide the thumbs-up emotional lift of a bumper-sticker message on game day.
  25. Reviewed by: Glenn Heath Jr.
    Feb 6, 2012
    63
    What sets Undefeated apart from the usual underdog sports story is how the filmmakers emphasize the importance of mentorship as something separate from on-the-field interactions between coach and player.
  26. Reviewed by: Tom Dawson
    Jul 28, 2012
    60
    Familiar territory, especially if you've seen "Hoop Dreams" and "Friday Night Lights," but the intimate style offers its own rewards.
  27. Reviewed by: John Anderson
    Feb 16, 2012
    50
    One of the reasons documentaries often take so long to make is the filmmakers' need to keep their subject from giving a performance. They want something genuine, something that materializes only when the camera disappears. Nothing Mr. Courtney is says is inaccurate or, God knows, dishonest. But it isn't quite true either.
  28. Reviewed by: Michael Atkinson
    Feb 14, 2012
    40
    Honestly, Courtney and his crew all seem like nice people, but if there's an unironic audience for this kind of romantic jock-cup fondling, I'm not interested in knowing it.
  29. Reviewed by: Kyle Smith
    Feb 17, 2012
    25
    This indie documentary is egregiously Hollywood in spirit. That a take-charge white football coach can buck up a place like Manassas HS with some gridiron grit is a lie we want to believe.
User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 18 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 10
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 10
  3. Negative: 0 out of 10
  1. Apr 9, 2014
    9
    Touching and inspirational, Undefeated manages to make you feel invested in the lives of these kids and coaches at Manassas High School within the first thirty minutes. On the surface, sure, it is a film about football, but the film manages to rise above its subject matter and give you an intimate look at the lives of these kids as they try to get out of the inner city and make something out of themselves. At the end of the day, rather than a run of the mill sports film, Undefeated is a unique look at people with their backs against the wall attempting to not be defined by where they came from. Full Review »
  2. Apr 14, 2013
    9
    I found this a very inspirational film with insights into the lives of the players and the coaches alike. Admittedly, a lot of the focus is on Coach Courtney, but we do get glimpses of the lives of the players too. Not only star player O.C. Brown, but players like Montrail 'Money' Brown, who struggles with a bad injury part-way through the season. It was great to see how both the coach and his team-mates stood by him throughout. Also there was bad boy Chavis Daniels, who had problems with discipline but overcame them to become an iatrical part of the team. Even if, like me, you’re not particularly a fan of the game this inspirational film is well worth a look!

    SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

    My score: 8.9/10
    Full Review »
  3. Mar 18, 2013
    9
    Undefeated is a documentary that follows a single season of a high school team in Memphis Tennessee, the Manassas Tigers. The film follows the whole team but really focuses in on four people, the coach and three players. One of the first things the coach says to the camera is, "football doesn't build character, football reveals character". This line may seem corny, but as we go on the journey with this team, and specifically these three players, we get an understanding of how true this line is.

    All three of these kids come from difficult situations with more than their share of obstacles to overcome. As we watch their stories unfold in this short period of their life we feel like we get to know these players. We grow to care for them, we rejoice with them when they succeed and our heart breaks with them when their situations get the better of them. Their stories are the emotional crux of the film. To read their stories in a review would not do them justice, their stories need to be experienced within the film. It is a journey worth taking.

    No less emotional is the story of the coach of this team. On the surface he may seem like one of a thousand coaches in this country, I can only hope this is the case. As the film unfolds and he shares more of his journey our respect for him grows and grows. Football is important to him, but way more important is the way he connects with the young men he coaches. he understands how important it is for young men to have an adult male to care for them, to connect with them, and to kick them in the butt when they need it. This coach seems to be a truly humble man with a true heart for the young men he coaches.

    Undefeated is a great, emotional watch. Not only one of the best documentaries I have seen in a long time but one of the best movies I have seen in a long time.
    Full Review »