Raging Bull

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Raging Bull Movie Poster Image
Boxing movie masterpiece still brutal, bloody.
  • R
  • 1980
  • 129 minutes
Parents recommend

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 8 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The main character more or less gets his comeuppance for his bad behavior, though he may or may not realize it himself. Minor characters come out sadder, but wiser. No characters really change in a positive way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jake behaves like a brute throughout, acting on baser instincts (violence, jealousy, etc.) without ever really learning a lesson. He does fall from grace, but it's not clear whether he truly understands this fall, or believes he deserves it. The minor characters are not much better, either enabling Jake, or running away from him.

Violence

This movie contains some of the most punishing, bloody boxing ring footage ever filmed, complete with spraying bodily fluids. Jake also threatens, slaps, and punches his first and second wives and beats up his brother. In another scene, Jake punishes himself by punching and banging his head against a brick wall. We also see a ringside riot after a fight, in which people are trampled.

Sex

Jake's wife Vicki is around 14 when they meet, and definitely a teen when she marries him. Jake flirts with her somewhat inappropriately, and they kiss. In one scene (while married), they make out and remove pants and underwear. No nudity is shown. Jake pours ice water down his pants to stop the sexual encounter. Viewers see a wet spot on the front of Vicki's nightgown. Later in the story, Jake kisses two girls in his nightclub, while still married. Otherwise, there is various sexual innuendo.

Language

Very strong language here, with frequent use of "f--k." We also hear "s--t," "c--t," "c--k," "balls," "motherf--ker," "son of a bitch," "faggot," "fags," "ass," "a--hole," "Christ," "d--k," and "piss."

 
Consumerism

During a fight on television, we see a promo spot for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, twice. In the final scene, we see a Kleenex box.

 
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults drink socially in several scenes, though no one appears to be drunk. Jake drinks a beer at home in one scene. Jake smokes a cigar in the later years, and a minor character smokes a cigarette.

 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this 1980 biopic about boxing champion Jake LaMotta is one of the most highly acclaimed American movies ever made. It's supremely brutal, with punishing boxing sequences as well as shocking violence set outside the ring (Jake beats up his wives and his brother). Language is very strong, including "f--k," "s--t," "c--t," and "c--k," and there is at least one scene with strong sexual suggestion. Some characters drink and smoke, but in a background way, and there's an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer on television. Teens interested in cinema history will eventually discover this one, but don't let the old-fashioned black-and-white cinematography fool you: this one is for older teens and grownups only.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 14 years old Written bySpielberg00 May 23, 2012

Really beautiful and really graphic, but not nearly as much as CSM says.

My suggested MPAA rating: R for pervasive strong language, sequences of boxing violence, and for a scene of sexuality. Violence: 3/5 - Other than one scene tow... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written by80sfan8 March 10, 2012

No reviews yet?!?

Before I say anything I find it hard to believe no one has reviewed this yet. Anyways I didn't think it was brutal like CSM thought it was, but then that... Continue reading

What's the story?

In 1964, old, fat, washed-up Jake La Motta (Robert De Niro) prepares for his nightclub routine. Flashing back to 1941, we meet young Jake, vicious and angry, delivering punishing blows to his opponents in the boxing ring. Outside the ring, he doesn't behave much differently. He fights with his wife, seduces a young girl, Vicki (Cathy Moriarity), marries her and begins treating her with jealousy and suspicion. His brother Joey (Joe Pesci) sticks by him, but Jake even treats him badly. Eventually Jake wins the middleweight championship, but can he stop the inevitable downfall that follows?

Is it any good?

Director Martin Scorsese uses gorgeous black-and-white photography to evoke the period. But that barely covers up the mean, modern stuff, from the language and behavior to the ferocious fight sequences. (Scorsese deliberately shot them to be cinematic rather than realistic.) On top of it all, the performances set a new standard for American movies and actors, with De Niro famously gaining 60 pounds over the course of the production. Pesci and Moriarity perfectly match him. Rarely do movies explode with this much power.

One of the world's most respected movie directors, Scorsese made Raging Bull at an interesting period, coming between his gritty New York movies (Taxi Driver) and his slick gangster movies (GoodFellas); it has attributes of both, making it something of an essential Scorsese experience. His camera angles and the Oscar-winning editing are flawless, including the memorable first meeting of Jake and Vicki through a chain-link fence.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. How is the violence in the ring different from the violence outside the ring? How did the filmmakers highlight the violence in this movie?

  • Is Jake a bully? Is he a role model? Is this still a good movie even if the subject isn't a good guy?
  • What has made this movie stand the test of time?

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Movie details

For kids who love drama

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