Girlfight

Movie review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Girlfight Movie Poster Image
Thought-provoking boxing drama has lots of profanity.
  • R
  • 2000
  • 110 minutes

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

You can turn your life around if you can find something you love doing and are willing to work hard at it. Success doesn't happen overnight, and you have to put in a lot of practice and hard work to get something right.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Diana starts out in trouble for too many fights at school, but when she finds a positive physical and mental outlet -- boxing -- her life starts to change for the better. She learns the value in sticking with something, even when it's hard. She becomes able to stand up to her father and to open herself up to loving and being loved. Her father wants his kids to do well but is incapable of taking action to help make that happen, possibly because he carries a lot of his own guilt. Love interest Adrian isn't quite sure what he wants out of life, but he supports Diana as she breaks into a male-dominated world. Trainer Hector helps Diana in many ways, pushing her to do better, giving sound advice, and being a steady presence in her life.

Violence

There's a lot of boxing, of course, and although a lot of the language used to talk about it is aggressive, there's no blood or gore in the boxing scenes themselves. Minor injuries such as a black eye are shown. Outside the ring, Diana gets into a fight at school that shows hits and slaps. Another fight outside the ring shows punching, kicking someone who's down, and choking. Rape and getting killed are mentioned in a conversation about life in the projects.

Sex

Diana and Adrian kiss a few times. They spend the night in the same bed together and start making out. Diana is clothed and Adrian's bare torso is shown. Adrian decides to stop, and they fall asleep cuddling.

Language

"F--k" and variations are used frequently. "S--t" is used almost as much. Other strong language used a few times each: "a--hole," "p--y," bitch," "prick," "bulls--t," "piss," "crap," "ho," and "d--k." In a brief scene a character is listening to music with a lot of profanity, especially "s--t." A Spanish curse word is used a couple of times.

Consumerism

Seen in the background, but not used by any characters, are Goya, Fritos, and Cheetos. A minor character puts Brooklyn Brewery beer in the fridge at a party.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Diana's father is shown with beer at dinner twice and in another scene seems somewhat drunk. Adults are frequently depicted holding beer bottles and hold plastic cups at a party, and Diana talks to a minor character while he puts beer in the fridge. A minor character has a cigarette tucked behind his ear.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Girlfight is about a troubled teen finding a direction to take in life and is a fairly quiet, thoughtful film. There's a lot of strong language, especially "f--k" and "s--t," but kids who can handle the language will be rewarded with a lot of food for thought from this character study that doesn't wrap everything in a bow at the end. Diana, who's 18, isn't perfect but will inspire kids to keep practicing and work hard to achieve their goals. Outside the boxing ring there are a couple of fight scenes, but none shows blood or gore. Diana and Adrian kiss a few times and lie in bed together with clothes on. Adults are frequently seen with bottles of beer, but none of the teen characters drinks.

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What's the story?

High school senior Diana (Michelle Rodriguez) gets in trouble for fighting at school one too many times, and if she doesn't turn things around she'll be expelled. Running an errand, she enters a boxing gym and is immediately drawn to the sport. Behind her father's back she starts training in earnest and finds that the better she gets at boxing, the better she's able to cope with everything else going on in her life. She starts to fall for fellow hopeful Adrian, but can their relationship survive when they have to get into the ring against each other?

Is it any good?

Yes, GIRLFIGHT has plenty of boxing, but it's actually a thought-provoking character study. Teens looking for a lot of action will be rewarded instead with a look at a young woman turning her life around, finding a positive outlet emotionally and physically, blazing a trail in a male-dominated sport, and learning that different and unexpected paths are open for her. Michelle Rodriguez has tremendous magnetism as Diana, a character who's a little hard to like, very hard to get to know, and impossible not to admire.

Director and writer Karyn Kusama crafts a documentary-like neutrality with a somber, quiet mood that's realistic without being gratuitously gritty. Kusama doesn't solve all Diana's problems for us, either, and teens will find themselves pondering her future long after the movie is over.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about women participating in male-dominated sports such as boxing. Is it OK for women to fight men, or should matches keep the sexes separate? Why? Are there any sports women shouldn't participate in at all? Why not?

  • What do you think will become of Diana? Will she become a successful boxer, maybe even a pro? What obstacles will she still have to overcome?

  • Did you know very much about boxing before you saw this movie? Did it seem realistic? Does knowing more about the sport change your opinion about it?

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