"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.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
While Head Games does feature a number of articulate and consistently intelligent talking-head interviews, it's ultimately not a satisfying advocacy doc.
Michael Nordine - Village Voice
James has a worthy message, but never makes the case that he needs an entire documentary to deliver it.
Elizabeth Weitzman - New York Daily News
The documentary by Steve James paints a devastating picture of the long-term consequences of head injuries among pro NFL players.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
It's solid and interesting work in the main, but Head Games can't help but feel like a come-down after The Interrupters.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
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.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
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.
John Anderson - Variety
Finally, there's a sports movie for people who are caught between admiration and fear of athleticism.
Adam Litovitz - Globe and Mail
It hides more than it shows, and makes a cloudy story into something way too simple.
Daniel Engber - Slate
[A] powerful documentary about the devastating effects of head injuries in sports.
Frank Scheck - Hollywood Reporter
A complex, determined look at one of the most pernicious problems facing organized sports on all levels ...
Kenneth Turan - Los Angeles Times
The film struggles with the contradiction of knowing the serious risks while enjoying the games as participant and spectator.
Mark Pfeiffer - 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.
Christopher Long - Movie Metropolis
A bit more palatable than most "let me teach you a lesson"-style non-fiction films.
Tim Brayton - 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.
Sarah Boslaugh - Playback:stl
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.
Brent Simon - Shockya.com
If you have children involved in contact sports, you must see 'Head Games.'
James Verniere - 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.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
It's certainly wholesome food for thought for anyone with kids in sports.
Chris Knight - 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.
Adam Nayman - 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.
Jake Mulligan - Boston Phoenix
You'll feel like you need a helmet in the theater.
Ben Kenigsberg - 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.
Brian Tallerico - HollywoodChicago.com
James is primarily concerned about bringing awareness, and he does so with an intelligent presentation of the best data available and genuine concern.
Mark Dujsik - 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.
Matt Pais - RedEye
[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.
Perry Seibert - TV Guide's Movie Guide
Sobering look at how concussions affect athletes, from the director of Hoop Dreams.
Daniel Eagan - Film Journal International
This hard-hitting documentary issues a wake-up call for safety improvements in all sports where head injuries are common.
Betty Jo Tucker - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
A timely exploration of the damage done to people in spectator sports just one step above what took place in the coliseums of another Empire in its decline.
Louis Proyect - rec.arts.movies.reviews
An important film that every athlete - or parent of an athlete - should see.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
As awareness increases and the dangers become harder to deny, the lingering question is this: How much will games allow themselves to be changed?
Scott Tobias - AV Club
The results are, cinematically speaking, a little diffuse, but any parent who's contemplating whether they should sign their kids up for Pop Warner this fall may want to watch this first.
Matt Singer - Time Out
Required viewing for parents of children who play "hard-contact" sports, to say nothing of those kids themselves.
While Steve James's doc is persuasive on an informational level, it doesn't do enough to explore the human side of its subject matter.
Jesse Cataldo - Slant Magazine