Young college students under their coach's tutelage debate some hot-button issues, while also struggling to find their paths in life.
- Attempted Rape: Garson assaults Monica near the end of the film, and seems to be intent on rape until she gets away from him.
- Blatant Lies: Charlie, when asked how to sway a Catholic judge in favor of the pro-choice side on abortion, tells them a story of his own mother nearly dying from an illegal abortion, which affects them deeply. Then he admits it was made up, but says they should do the same.
- Chewbacca Defense: The protagonists win a debate on abortion through use of the appeal to consequences fallacy. Not only that, but their debating coach explicitly instructs them to use stories that sway people in using these. This is treated as completely fine, however underhanded they are as tactics (that wouldn't be allowed in most real formal debates).
- Child by Rape: In the final debate, Monica reveals she became pregnant by rape and had an abortion at fourteen. She's using this to argue against abortion, oddly enough, despite saying that she'd do the same thing again. Her opponents are unimpressed.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Donna doesn't like to be pitied because of having a disability, treated differently or called "handicapped" etc. On the other hand, she doesn't like people ignoring the limits it places on her (like being unable to dance) though she's intent on overcoming these eventually.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: All the nuances are explored with the debate on abortion, and the protagonists argue against it. Monica however, who reveals she actually had an abortion, is treated sympathetically. None of the pro-life arguments made ever actually say women that had abortions were bad either.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Garson pushes Tucker away from an oncoming car when the two's fight caused him to get out into the street in front of it. He's struck instead and killed.
- Rape as Backstory: Monica reveals in the final debate how she suffered this when just fourteen. Tucker at first thinks it was just a made-up story, given that Charlie told one earlier to sway people, but then realizes it's true.