What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Knockout is a 2011 feel-good sports movie starring teen favorite "Stone Cold" Steve Austin with frequent bullying and taunting between the "jock" Hector and the "new kid" Matthew. Even as Matthew trains and learns to box, he is pushed, shoved, called names, and knocked down almost every time he runs into Hector at school. In the boxing ring, Matthew is beaten up and bloodied by Hector. In spite of the bullying, Matthew learns to box, but more importantly, learns to believe in himself, to set and meet realistic goals, and to persevere through the difficulties of high school and family life -- messages that will ring true to older tweens and teens.
What's the story?
Bookish Matthew Miller (Daniel Magder) is upset because he is leaving his friends and beloved private school behind when his mother and stepfather find a new home in a new town. At his new school, Matthew quickly befriends two kids who proudly proclaim their allegiance to no clique, but when one of his new friends puts him up to asking out a popular cheerleader, Matthew meets the cheerleader's boyfriend, Hector -- a state boxing champion and a bully. Hector immediately begins bullying and taunting Matthew at every opportunity. When the school janitor, Dan Barnes (Steve Austin), discovers Matthew is interested in boxing, he encourages him to take up the sport and join the boxing club. After getting pummeled in the ring by Hector during boxing club tryouts, Dan -- who Matthew learns was a former boxer -- gives him a few pointers. Matthew begs Dan to train him, and teach him the art of boxing. Even as he learns and develops as a boxer under Dan's tutelage, Matthew's mother and stepfather want him to quit after a bruising incident with Hector. And when Matthew goes against his parents' wishes, Matthew must learn self-reliance and responsibility for his actions, both in and out of the ring.
Is it any good?
While not in the same league as other feel-good sports movies like Rocky or The Karate Kid, KNOCKOUT makes full use of its limited budget and delivers a movie with lots of boxing action. Besides this, the movie is unafraid to tackle difficult issues like bullying, high school cliques, the challenges of being the new kid in school, and the issues stepparents and stepchildren face living under the same roof. As an actor, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin has a good handle on what he can and cannot do, and turns in an enjoyable performance as a high school janitor and former boxer.
Most of the dialogue -- especially between the outcast kids of the high school -- rings true, and even in spite of the occasional moments of overacting from Daniel Magder (who plays the bullied new kid), the characters are both likeable and believable. The bullying scenes and the blood in the boxing matches might be a bit much for younger or more sensitive viewers, but for boxing fans, and fans of Steve Austin's glory days as a pro wrestler, Knockout is an entertaining movie.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how bullying is addressed in this movie. Did school administrators, teachers, coaches, parents, and students respond appropriately to Hector's bullying? What would you do in the face of bullying?
How accurately does the film reflect the realities of cliques in high school? What rings true and what doesn't?
Overall, how does this movie compare to other "feel-good" sports movies?