A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Manny is a documentary that traces the career of acclaimed Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, considered one of the greatest pugilists the sport has ever witnessed. Since the film is about boxing, there are plenty of sparring scenes, many of which leave participants bloodied and bruised -- and sometimes even unconscious. There's also a little bit of language (including sparing use of "s--t"). Otherwise, this is an inspiring tale about a man who, by working hard and following his dream, has become one of his nation's most significant role models.
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What's the story?
MANNY reveals the impressive career of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, telling a tale about overcoming adversity and claiming your destiny. So impoverished that he often went hungry as a child, Pacquiao dropped out of school in sixth grade, lied about his age to start fighting professionally at 16, and eventually became world champion in eight weight classes -- a feat nobody else has even attempted. He's considered one of the greatest boxers in history and is a national hero in the Philippines, where he's also been elected to Congress. It's a larger-than-life existence that's perfect for the cinema.
Is it any good?
Manny Pacquiao deserves to have a good movie made about his life, but Manny isn't quite it. The early sections are fascinating, including rare clips of his early career and an interview with the uncle who first trained him and has kept the gloves Pacquiao wore when he was 12. The midsection is fairly standard rise-to-fame fare, explaining how a nobody boxer became a sensation with an upset win over the reigning world champion.
The rest is, unfortunately, a muddle. There are hints of financial shenanigans within Pacquiao's management that aren't further explored; storylines lead to nowhere, and, although there are interviews with his wife and brief mentions of girlfriends, there's almost no information about Pacquiao's personal life. We briefly see him with kids, but we're not even told their age or gender -- or even how many kids he has. Is he a devoted husband or a philanderer? After watching Manny, we have no idea. The later portions that deal with his professional life also lack focus. Several matches against Juan Marquez are shown, but their significance isn't explained. Yes, Pacquiao's defeat of Oscar De La Hoya was impressive, but why was it a watershed moment in boxing? Manny is a film about Manny, but he remains a mystery.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Manny's rags-to-riches story. What kind of obstacles did he need to overcome? Do you think his story is typical in the world of top-tier athletics?
How does the documentary explain Manny's impact on boxing? Does it show both his strengths and his weaknesses? Is he a role model? Why or why not?
How do the real-life boxing scenes make you feel? Are they thrilling? Upsetting? Both? Do you think you'd feel differently if this was a drama instead of a documentary?
- In theaters: January 23, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: April 14, 2015
- Cast: Liam Neeson
- Director: Ryan Moore
- Studio: Universal Pictures
- Genre: Documentary
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Great Boy Role Models
- Run time: 88 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some sport violence/bloody images
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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