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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bleed for This is a sometimes brutal, often riveting, but not entirely original drama based on the life of boxer scrappy, ambitious Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller). His love for boxing is re-ignited by a tragic accident that's shown in a pretty disturbing way. There are also plenty of hard-hitting, bloody fight scenes in the ring that may be too intense for younger viewers. Strong language is frequent and includes "f--k," "t-ts," and more. Expect some social drinking and a character who's an alcoholic. Scenes take place in a strip club, and there's partial nudity: A woman's breasts are shown in the middle of an intimate scene. Still, the movie conveys the importance of believing in yourself and working hard.
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What's the story?
In BLEED FOR THIS, boxer Vinny Pazienza (Miles Teller) is the pride of Rhode Island, making a name for himself by winning a number of messy bouts. He's got a lot of heart but is sometimes sloppy and complacent, willing to box within the proverbial box he's been placed in. A switch to a new trainer, Kevin Rooney (Aaron Eckhart) -- an alcoholic who once coached Mike Tyson -- helps Vinny forge a path back to the sport that's fueled with passion and discipline. But when a terrible accident causes an injury that threatens Vinny's ability to function, let alone fight, Vinny and Rooney must find a way for him to get back in the ring. The only other option is for Vinny to lose his purpose, and that's not an option he's willing to take.
Is it any good?
This boxing drama isn't particularly groundbreaking, but it's still absorbing, thanks to strong performances from its two leads. In Whiplash, we saw Teller flex his admirable dramatic muscles, and they're on full display here, albeit with a little less nuance (though he still turns in an affecting performance). His Vinny is, like most big-screen fighters, mercurial and striving and magnetic, if still a little opaque.
And Aaron Eckhart -- wow! Almost unrecognizable in Bleed for This, his Rooney is a flawed and loyal and committed; he's a mess, even as he works to help Vinny pick up the pieces of his banged-up life and body. Though his character is still limited by boxing-movie cliches, Eckhart more than makes up for it, turning in a knock-out performance that captures the joy of of pursuit, the fear of being forgotten, and the total devotion to someone -- or something -- bigger than yourself.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Bleed for This compares to other boxing movies. Is it a film about redemption, the human spirit, or something else? What do movies about this sport tend to have in common? Why do you think that is?
Is Vinny a role model? Is his trainer? Do people -- either in real life and in the movies -- have to be perfect to be considered role models?
- In theaters: November 18, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: February 14, 2017
- Cast: Miles Teller, Katey Sagal, Aaron Eckhart
- Director: Ben Younger
- Studio: Open Road Films
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Character Strengths: Perseverance
- Run time: 116 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language, sexuality/nudity and some accident images
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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