Back in the Day

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Back in the Day Movie Poster Image
Mature boxing drama means well but falls far short.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 121 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Celebrates being yourself and working hard to succeed. There are consequences for poor choices/actions. Racial slurs aren't tolerated.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Even the characters who mean well are often involved with mobsters and/or getting into trouble.


Boxing violence, with punching and bloody cuts. Bar and street fights, with injuries. Shooting and killing, with blood spurts/stains. A father punches his teen son in the face. A woman's boyfriend threatens to "smack" her; she's also seen with a bruise on her face. A woman is hit by a car (off screen); she lies on the pavement with blood trickling out of her mouth. Beating with baseball bats. Bashing in the head with a bottle. Kids light firecrackers and bottle rockets in the street (using gasoline) and toss a firecracker into a window.


Main character shown in bed with two women. One has a naked bottom, and the other's breasts are bare. Lead characters kiss; sex is presumed. An older man flirts with a teen boy and tries to give him a shoulder massage. One character talks about how he likes to sleep around. Bikini-clad young women at a party. Innuendo.


Constant stream of extreme language, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "a--hole," "p---y," "ass," "bastard," "son of a bitch," "damn," "balls," "jerk," "f----t," "prick," "you suck," "nut sack." Also racial slurs: "spic," "monkey," and the "N" word.


The main character drives a convertible Dodge Challenger. Facebook and Olive Garden are mentioned.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A secondary character is an alcoholic. Characters drink socially, in bars and clubs, throughout. A teen tries a sip of scotch. Characters smoke cigarettes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Back in the Day is a boxing drama with extremely strong language, including "f--k," "s--t," and slurs like the "N" word and "f----t." And in addition to plenty of bloody boxing violence, there are scenes of street fighting, beatings with baseball bats, and shooting/killing, with bloody wounds shown. A father punches his son in the face, a woman is abused (off screen) by her boyfriend, and a woman is struck and killed (off screen) by a car. There's kissing and some nudity (breasts and bottom), and the main character in shown in bed with two women. An older man tries to "come on" to a teen boy by giving him a shoulder massage. A secondary character is an alcoholic, and characters frequently drink and smoke in clubs and bars.

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What's the story?

In BACK IN THE DAY, middleweight boxer Anthony Rodriguez (William DeMeo) wins the championship and agrees to a sit-down interview with sports writer Larry Merchant (playing himself). Anthony tells the story of his drunken Puerto Rican father (Manny Perez) and the sad fate of his beloved mother (Annabella Sciorra). He also tells about growing up, mixed-race, surrounded by the neighborhood gangsters; one of them, Enzo (Michael Madsen), takes a liking to Anthony and looks after him, but Anthony's best friend, Matty (Joe D'Onofrio), is a bad influence on him. Anthony is in love with Maria (Shannen Doherty), but she's involved with the abusive "made" guy Dominick (Ronnie Marmo). If only Anthony can keep it together long enough to win the big fight, maybe he can make something of himself.

Is it any good?

Star William DeMeo also wrote and produced this well-meaning, heartfelt boxing drama, but even with a great cast, it's too long, painfully overwritten, amateurish, and embarrassingly awkward. To start, Back in the Day shows its climactic fight at the beginning and tells the rest in flashback, so there's nothing to look forward to. And ech dialogue-heavy scene plays out roughly the same, with characters showing up somewhere, talking, and then leaving.

Actors like Madsen and Alec Baldwin manage to find things to work with in between their voluminous dialogue and come away with their dignity mostly intact. But the less-experienced actors haven't a prayer. The fight scenes aren't even exciting, turned bland by far too many cutaways to fans at ringside. Most of the soapy story elements have been done elsewhere, and better, but director Paul Borghese drags the movie out to a torturous two hours, as if pure repetition could pound some life into this punishing pugilist project.

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For kids who love sports

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