A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Be brave and be yourself. Face your past with honesty. On the soccer pitch, everyone is equal.
Positive Role Models
Pele was an incredible goal scorer, dribbler, and reader of the game. Through difficult political times, he tried to stay neutral and remain focused on his sport. Pele broke records, holds records, and continues to inspire thousands of soccer players around the globe. For many, Brazilians learned to love themselves because of Pele, and he became a symbol of Brazil's emancipation from the so-called "Mongrel Complex (always putting other people above yourself and viewing Europe and the U.S. as better)" that many felt for too long had held back the people of Brazil. Pele also helped bring soccer to the U.S. in the 1970s, playing for the New York Cosmos. Pele remains the only player to ever win 3 World Cups and is considered by many to be the greatest soccer player of all time.
Violence & Scariness
Some footage of altercations on the street between military police and civilians. Many are seen hurt, in need of assistance, and in pain. A handful of scenes of police with guns and other weapons advancing on protesting civilians. Some discussion about the brutalities the military government, a dictatorship, inflicted upon the Brazilian people, including torture chambers and people simply "disappearing."
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some footage of Pele receiving lots of attention from girls and women, including kisses on his cheek, lots of pictures taken, and some interview questions about his relationships. Some footage of women in bathing suits. Some later discussion about his infidelities and affairs with other women during his 3 marriages. Shots of Pele and other soccer players with their shirts off.
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Language includes: "f--k," "s--t," and "damn."
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Products & Purchases
With so much focus on the World Cup and its celebratory nature, FIFA is represented here neutrally, if not positively.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some adults are shown smoking cigarettes, cigars. Adults are shown drinking champagne and celebrating.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pele is a documentary about the career of arguably the greatest soccer player of all time. The film covers his meteoric impact on soccer and its globalization, his personal triumphs and achievements, and his potential failures as a father and a husband. A decent amount of the film also covers the Brazilian Military coup and takeover of the government in 1964 by propagating a lie that Brazil was becoming more communist. The government ultimately committed crimes against humanity, used torture chambers, removed the right of habeas corpus, and arrested people without cause. Scenes and footage show civilians clashing with military police, and many scenes show people hurt, needing help, and in pain. Meanwhile, Pele focused on his soccer and playing for Santos (his domestic club team) and the Brazilian national team. Some time is devoted to questioning whether Pele should've done more during this period to speak out against his government's atrocities. Mainly the docu traces Pele's significant goals, performances in World Cups (most importantly in 1958, '62, and '70), and career achievements. Some time is also given to his struggles with infidelity and dealing with fame at an early age. Strong language includes "f--k," "s--t," and "damn." To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
While Pele's career and achievements are celebrated, the film doesn't quite know how to frame Pele against Brazil's political turmoil that led to a brutal dictatorship. On one hand, Pele wants to definitively enshrine Pele as the greatest of all-time, a determination that many already agree with. The film covers how Pele became a symbol for an emerging modern Brazil. He brought belief and a sense of self worth to Brazilians. But on the other hand, the film rightly wishes to question Pele's behavior and actions during the reign of the Brazilian Military Government. In the film, Pele admits to being aware of everything, but he also states that they (the soccer players) never knew, really, what was true and what was rumor. And Pele states that he just tried to stay out of it and focus on soccer. A few journalists also suggest that if you haven't lived in and through a dictatorship, you shouldn't comment on what Pele was going through. One journalist suggests that Pele very well knew that if he spoke out against his government, there was a good chance he'd end up tortured, in jail, or dead. Other superstars ignoring societal ills have the leisure of speaking out without those particularly horrifying consequences.
The soccer Pele covers and historicizes, however, is wonderful. There is so much great footage of Pele during his early years, height of dominance, and later career triumphs, like the 1970 World Cup that he almost didn't play in. For the pure soccer fans, expect a definitive reminder of why Pele is considered the greatest of all time. He was unquestionably unparalleled in ability and produced staggering numbers. He was a confounding dribbler, passer of the ball, and reader of the game, able to predict body movements and ball trajectories quicker and better than anyone else. Many managers feared his brain as much as his lethal feet. Also evident is the sheer power of Pele, his bursts of speed and penetration of defenses, and his blistering shot (his last goal was a 30-yard free kick for the New York Cosmos). Of course, lots of Pele's dribbles, assists, and goals are shown, and the narrations and commentary of particularly famous World Cup games provided by Pele and his teammates are thrilling. For fans of soccer or Pele, Pele is a highly recommended. Non-soccer fans may get less mileage.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.