Gridiron Gang

 
(i)

 

Inspiring sports action with The Rock. Teens OK.
  • Review Date: January 15, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 120 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

Violence

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.

Sex

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

Language

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").

Consumerism

Visible Under Armour gear, reference to Madden video games.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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").

Parents say

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:September 15, 2006
DVD release date: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.

This review of Gridiron Gang was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byMasterMo109 September 16, 2010
 
amazing video about football
What other families should know
Great messages
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.
Adult Written bycclark April 9, 2008
 

The 12, 15 & 45 Year Olds Loved It!

Not for younger children. The opening violence made even Mom cringe, but it did give a good sense of what these kids are up against. It was predictable which I liked as a mother. I knew pretty much what to expect before I took my kids. My 15 yr old daughter and 12 yr old son loved it. I was cheering/crying/laughing, as well. Applause from the audience at the end. During the credits, some of the real "characters" who were portrayed in the movie stopped us, the audience, in our tracks. These are real kids who were changed by this real coach. His lesson of taking a loser to a winner is one I'm glad my kids saw. I loved the line, and I'm paraphrasing, "You're not a loser anymore, you just haven't figured out how to be a winner". My kids were shocked with the reality of "life" in a gang environment (and I'm sure it wasn't as realistic as it could have been, to get the PG-13 rating), but I believe it gave them a strong compassion for kids who commit these crimes at such an early age and how some creativity and dedication can, sometimes, turn it around. I definitely recommend it for the appropriate age group. The language is less offensive than they hear in Middle & High Schools. Worth the price of admission (and I think I've said that about two movies in the past year, and this is one of them). I've never posted a review before, but I think this one was worth it.

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