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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Creed, a compelling continuation of the Rocky saga starring Michael B. Jordan as Apollo Creed's son, Adonis Johnson, has boxing at its center, which means plenty of scenes of often-brutal fights: body blows, face punches, blood everywhere. The story is driven forward by a traditional hero's journey, which will likely appeal to teens. There's a romance that includes some kissing and groping (nothing too graphic), and you can expect some strong language (including "s--t," "oh my God," the "N" word, and one "f--k").
What's the story?
Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) never knew his father, boxing legend Apollo CREED; Apollo died before Adonis was born (the boy was the product of an affair). After Adonis bounces around from one group home to another, Apollo's widow (Phylicia Rashad) takes him in, providing him with a loving family and the education to pursue what she hopes is a journey different from his father's, who died because of a difficult fight. But Adonis is Apollo's son through and through, and soon the young man, who's boxing under the radar in Mexico, feels called to the ring. He quits his investment banking job and moves to Philadelphia, where he hopes to make a name for himself outside of the Creed legacy and under the tutelage of Apollo's former foe and later friend, Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone). But earning his stripes means facing not just other established fighters, but his own demons.
Is it any good?
This movie has elements that are terrific, no question, but it disappoints, too. But it's still well worth seeing, if only to witness how Rocky's cinematic and boxing legacy continues. First, the good stuff: Decades after the first Rocky hit the big screen, the pull of the franchise endures. When Stallone makes his first appearance, it's hard not to root for him. We've known this character for years, and there's something fundamentally appealing about him.
Adonis, meanwhile, is much more complicated and -- at least in the way Creed unfurls his story -- not as accessible (this despite Jordan turning in an outstanding performance). As he's written, Adonis isn't as complexly rendered as he deserves; we don't get to know him as deeply as we did Rocky, and therefore we aren't as invested in him as we should be. He comes alive when he's in the ring, as the star of a Rocky movie should (though nostalgia buffs will wish they'd hear more of the iconic theme song), thanks to fight choreography that taps into both the balletic and brutal elements of the punishing sport. But Adonis also needs to be compelling away from the ropes. A hero's journey deserves a hero who's mesmerizing; through no fault of the talented Jordan, Adonis still stands in the shadow of Rocky Balboa. But perhaps our standards have been raised too high by a classic that, though schmaltzy, maintains its place in the heart of filmgoers who grew up on these films?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Creed fits into the Rocky legacy. What themes of the previous movies does it also address? How does it depart from its predecessors?
Does the movie glamorize the sport of boxing (and the violence inherent in it) or provide an even-handed view of it? How does this kind of violence compare to what you might see in an action movie? Which has more impact, and why?
Is Rocky a role model? What do Rocky and Adonis bring to each other's lives?
- In theaters: November 25, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2016
- Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone
- Director: Ryan Coogler
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts
- Character strengths: Perseverance, Self-control
- Run time: 95 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: violence, language and some sensuality
- Awards/Honors: Golden Globe
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