Pele: Birth of a Legend

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Pele: Birth of a Legend Movie Poster Image
Biopic may be fun for soccer fans, but it's too formulaic.
  • PG
  • 2016
  • 107 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Be true to yourself, even if people in authority are trying to steer you in another direction. Hard work pays off.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pele faces an uphill climb from his childhood in poverty. Success doesn't come easily; he has to work hard to master his sport and learn what it takes to succeed.


A young boy dies in a freak accident, emotionally scarring the main character. Pele also faces taunting and bullying growing up but eventually learns to overcome them.


Infrequent use of words such as "damn" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pele: Birth of a Legend focuses on the childhood and early career of the famed Brazilian soccer star, who's often called the greatest of all time. Shot entirely in Pele's homeland, the movie is an American-produced biopic that explains how he brought his country's unique playing style to the world stage. It's a rags-to-riches story with lots of on-the-field action that will be fun for tween soccer fans and up (even if the story isn't that surprising). There's a little bit of language (along the lines of "damn") and smoking, as well as some bullying and a tragic accident that impacts the main character. But there's also plenty of wholesome athletic joy.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byTryingtodecide February 6, 2021

Great Movie even for non-soccer fans

My kids all love this movie, even the non-sports oriented ones. It has the death of a childhood friend, not overly wrought but good to be aware of if your chil... Continue reading
Adult Written byYela September 4, 2019

Brilliantly moving movie

This movie is great! My husband and I watched this with our 11 year old, who plays football. It was a very inspiring movie and a must see for all 1st world chil... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old April 28, 2018

The best soccer movie

This movie was great I watched it with my 8 year old little brother and he loved it. This movie encourages kids to never give up. This really was a great movie

What's the story?

At the 1958 World Cup, Brazilian soccer phenomenon Pele was just a 17-year-old kid, untested and a newcomer to the global soccer elite. As PELE: BIRTH OF A LEGEND shows, he was clearly ready, scoring goal after goal and helping lead the team to victory while showcasing the grace and style of his country's unique playing style. The film starts with Pele's childhood: He grew up in poverty while wealthier kids teased him for playing barefoot and coaches (including Vincent D'Onofrio as the head of the national team) tried to make him play according to a more traditional, European-focused technique. But as he matured as a player, Pele (Kevin de Paula) eventually made his teammates and coaches realize that their Brazilian heritage and specialized techniques are to be celebrated, not muted -- and that's what helps them win on the world stage.

Is it any good?

Pele was a true soccer phenomenon, a joy to watch on the field -- and this movie brings some of that excitement to the screen. Watching Pele move the ball -- really, it looks more like he's dancing with it -- is perhaps the best part of the movie. But off the field, the story, as told on screen, becomes less vibrant, even though the real-life Pele overcame great adversity, faced down the doubters, and showed everyone what he had.

Like the staid techniques Pele struggled to break free of, PELE BIRTH OF A LEGEND feels far too predictable at times as it moves through the standard formula of a rising star no one saw coming. Even the action scenes aren't as good as they could be -- they tend to focus very tightly on the athlete's body, making it hard to see his most acrobatic moves. Young soccer players may find the story inspiring, but for most viewers it will probably feel formulaic. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about sports movies. How does Pele: Birth of a Legend compare to other films about real-life sports heroes? Do they follow a certain formula? Is that OK?

  • How does Pele demonstrate perseverance? Why is that an important character strength?

  • Did the on-field scenes give you a sense of Pele's unusual style? Do the filmmakers do a good job of showing viewers what he's doing that's so special and different?

  • When does competition cross over into something destructive? Is trash-talking on the field akin to bullying?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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