Gridiron Gang

Movie review by
Cynthia Fuchs, Common Sense Media
Gridiron Gang Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Inspiring sports action with The Rock. Teens OK.
  • PG-13
  • 2006
  • 120 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Juvenile detention inmates are inspired to work as a team, slamming opponents on the football field.


An early scene shows explicit effects of gunfire (fast editing, loud noise, close-up of bloody body); football action is loud and hard-hitting; some fights between inmates are aggressive; shooting near end of film comes abruptly and disturbingly; death of protagonist's mother leaves characters mournful.


Some references to sexuality (brief negative allusions to homosexuality); cheerleaders wear scant costumes; some sexual/gender slang.


White player calls a black player the n-word, initiating an ongoing conflict; repeated uses of "s--t" (in various forms) and "ass" occasional other language ("damn," "suck it up," "bitch," "p--sy").


Visible Under Armour gear, reference to Madden video games.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while the on-the-field game/practice violence is typical of recent sports movies (though louder and more brutal), the film also includes street/gun violence. One scene has a player repeatedly trying to knock down his coach (an exercise designed by the coach). Two scenes show shootings with blood, and a couple of scenes show fights between players (they're quickly broken up by adults). Characters use harsh language (especially the n-word and "s--t").

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRaina C. May 30, 2020

Violence plays too big a role.

Many graphic shootings and fights. Mothers crying. Foul language and racism. The main theme is, 'we were losers, but we don't want to be losers anymor... Continue reading
Adult Written byRachel D April 9, 2008

inspiring sport movie

Pretty well done football movie, with a good message. There are some good football scenes, the "drama" sections tend to slow it down.
Kid, 10 years old September 16, 2013

Awesome Great Message

Inspiring movie great message
Teen, 13 years old Written byStrategist101 February 17, 2013

The Gridiron Gang

A great movie. Violence is a huge issue, but it can teach a lot about gangs in larger cities like Chicago. In the second major scene, a teen is shot and kille... Continue reading

What's the story?

The Rock plays Sean Porter, manager of a youth detention facility. Long frustrated by a legal system that sends kids through endless cycles of violence in the streets, their homes, and their juvie blocks, Sean is moved to action when ex-inmate Roger (Michael J. Pagan) is killed in a drive-by shooting within hours of his release from Camp Kilpatrick. Sean's solution: Organize the violence into football. Though his boss, Paul (Leon Rippy), is skeptical about spending the facility's scant state-issued funds on such a body-slamming venture ("The whole system," he notes, "is designed to make them avoid contact"), Sean and his whistle-wearing assistant Malcolm (Xzibit) assemble a team of hard cases. Because they're inclined to defend their turf ("He dissed my hood!" explains one inmate following a scuffle), Sean gives them a new source of identification. "This is your hood now," he asserts, the kids gazing up at him with a mix of doubt and hope.

Is it any good?

Punctuated by rough action scenes, GRIDIRON GANG is a familiar sports saga with kids in need of guidance and a coach in need of support from his institution. At once uplifting and banal, "based on a true story" and codified (not to say "Disneyfied"), the formula is also apparently endlessly profitable.

This time, it's also based on a 1993 documentary (clips from that film, also called Gridiron Gang, play during the closing credits and suggest that Jeff Maguire's script lifts heartfelt dialogue directly from the original speakers). The movie is also invigorated by The Rock (a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson), whose performance is simultaneously wry and warm. Charismatic as ever, he makes the movie's basic corniness slightly easier to bear.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how group identities and loyalties are formed, whether in the form of neighborhood gangs or sports teams. They can also discuss the ways that such new loyalties can replace lost or broken family ties. How does Willie learn to trust his coach? How are the kids impressed equally by the coach's toughness and his sensitivity?

Movie details

  • In theaters: September 15, 2006
  • On DVD or streaming: January 16, 2007
  • Cast: Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Jade Yorker
  • Director: Phil Joanou
  • Studio: Columbia Tristar
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 120 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: some startling scenes of violence, mature thematic material and language.
  • Last updated: February 11, 2020

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