A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this mediocre action drama about illegal street fighting is (suprise!) quite violent, with lots of brawling and some blood. There's a simmering romantic-sexual subplot, too, but the movie spends a lot more time on characters punching each other than on kissing. Although the movie has an underlying "follow your dream and never quit" message, it's hard to reconcile that with the illegal, brutal world it takes place in. Expect some broad ethnic stereotypes, strong language (including "s--t"), drinking, and smoking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In FIGHTING, hustling youth Shawn McArthur (Channing Tatum) is trying to get by on New York's mean streets when his scuffle with a group of robbers catches the eye of Harvey (Terrence Howard), a manager-promoter-conniver who takes Shawn under his wing. Harvey enters Shawn in the illegal world of back-alley, bare-knuckle brawling, where the payoff is thousands if you win -- and nothing if you don't. As Shawn moves up the ladder as a fighter, he's offered bigger and bigger purses -- and asked to throw fights. Will Shawn's principles see him all the way to a final bout with a nemesis from his past (Bryan White) -- or will he knuckle under and take part in a sham?
Is it any good?
Opening with a '70s-styled montage, Fighting hints that it might be more than just another fights-and-fury action film. Howard's work as wheedling, cajoling Harvey also adds to the retro feel. Unfortunately, an ace soundtrack and sterling character acting aren't enough to make Fighting much more than a series of poorly shot fight sequences strung together with cliches.
The script is as underdeveloped as Tatum's muscles are well-developed; viewers don't get much insight into what motivates Shawn to take and dispense brutal beatings, and we don't really glimpse why he feels like this is the only way he can make money -- or even what he needs to make money for. Fighting is actually structured uncannily like a video game -- down to the series of increasingly difficult fights against tougher and tougher opponents and the finale against the most difficult opponent, who shares a past connection with Shawn. Director Dito Montiel tries to fill the film with scrappy, funky flavor, but Fighting's so comfortable in its mediocrity that it actually bores you with its barrage of blows.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of fighting as a sport. Is it the desire to see athletic excellence in action or something more primal?
Does this kind of violence have more or less impact than explosions and gun battles? Why?
Families can also talk about the conflicts Shawn faces, as well as the bond he forms with his handler/manager.
- In theaters: April 24, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: August 25, 2009
- Cast: Channing Tatum, Terrence Howard, Zulay Henao
- Director: Dito Montiel
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 105 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense fight sequences, a sex scene and brief strong language
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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