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 family/sports drama heads down some dark avenues (alcoholism, tragic deaths, rage) but does so armed with good intentions. It explores the depths of estrangement and the power of forgiveness, and it also examines the bonds of family, the importance of self-confidence, and the endless possibilities of redemption. There’s a fleeting moment of non-sexual nudity (as well as kissing and an implied chest-flashing by a teen girl), some bullying and fighting, and drinking.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Cal Chetley’s (Devon Gaye) deceased father was a wrestling legend at his high school, and so was his estranged brother, Mike (WWE wrestler John Cena). But Cal’s not. He’s considered the brain, whose main interest beyond school has been, up until now, about making sure that his mini-catfish farm is doing well and that he’s there for his best friend, Luli (Madeleine Martin). But a run-in with some bullies at the river and a new friendship with a mysterious hobbyist angler (Danny Glover) convince him to try out for the wrestling team -- that and his yearning to get to know his brother, with whom he has no contact. But Cal's mother, Sharon (Patricia Clarkson), fears losing him to the sport, as well as the reasons underlying his decision to wrestle.
Is it any good?
The movie could have done without the grave, sonorous, public television-style narration that bookends it, and the heavy foreshadowing that practically gives away future plot twists. (That bit about a wrestling fake-out move introduced early on? You just know it’ll show up again in some momentous way.) And the bookish, “beanpole” archetype who transforms himself into a winning sportsman with, of course, a big heart. That’s all in the LEGENDARY stew.
Yet the film’s insistent tugging at your heartstrings will achieve some of its desired effect. Maybe it’s Gaye, who looks every bit the part of an earnest teen who doesn’t quite know how to save the world -- or, in this case, his family -- but he’ll try. Or Cena, who doesn’t break any new ground, acting-wise, but manages, if only just, to inhabit someone else’s skin for a bit. What’s not up for argument is Clarkson’s supreme talent. Sharon could have easily grown shrill and bitter, but in Clarkson's hands, she doesn't -- and even ultimately rises to the occasion in a spectacular fashion.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what the movie has in common with other sports dramas. How is it different (if at all)? Why do you think it explores the heavy subjects that it deals with?
Does the movie's mother-sons relationship seem realistic? Does the movie portray Sharon as a positive role model? What about her boys?
How does mastering a sport enhance a teenager’s life? How does this movie portray the impact of sports on a person's life?
- In theaters: September 10, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: December 28, 2010
- Cast: Danny Glover, John Cena, Patricia Clarkson
- Director: Mel Damski
- Studio: Samuel Goldwyn Company
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: suggestive material, brief partial nudity and some fighting scenes