Real Steel

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Real Steel Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Predictable but fun fight movie has lots of robot action.
  • PG-13
  • 2011
  • 126 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 35 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 74 reviews

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The movie has a lot to say about redemption and forgiveness between a father and his son. It also makes you think about how we cast aside older models (computers, cell phones, people) for flashier, newer varieties, often forgetting that there's value in what came before. It also suggests that people should be confident in their gifts and use them judiciously.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Charlie won't win Father of the Year anytime soon (at least not for most of the movie), but he does redeem himself. And Max is kind, forgiving, resilient, determined, and self-motivated; he's quite a kid.


Tons of scenes, some fairly intense, show robots beating other robots up. While the robots are the primary pugilists here, the machines' bouts take place in front of audiences drunk with bloodlust, and there's one nasty human beatdown that happens in front of a child and leaves a main character bloodied and immobilized.


One kiss and a few scantily clad women at a boxing match.


Language use (some of which is by the kid) includes "s--t," "ass," "damn," "crap," "bitch," "hell," "oh my God," and "suck."


Plenty of noticeable product placement from brands including Coca-Cola, ESPN, HP computers, Nokia, Capitol One, Cadillac, bing, Xbox, and Sprint.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

An adult swigs beer in front of children; at one point, he's drinking soon after waking up.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this futuristic action drama with a heart is equal parts Rocky and RoboCop. There are tons of brutal (if gripping) scenes of robot combat, some of which gets pretty intense. And it's not just the robots who get into brawls; a beating leaves a key character bloodied. One of the main characters (played by Hugh Jackman) is pretty abhorrent when the movie begins; he's introduced as an irresponsible mess who can't be bothered to care for his own son. He drinks and swears in front of the boy (words include "s--t" and "damn") and even goes so far as to "sell" him (or at least his parental rights) -- though he does change over the course of the movie, which ultimately has a message about redemption and forgiveness.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMreme001 January 6, 2019

I loved the movie

I Believe the movie showed many good aspects like importance of a family in once life,determination, hard work and never loose hope.
Parent of a 9-year-old Written byPinar January 9, 2021

Really enjoyed the movie

We watched it with my 10 year old son and we loved it.
Kid, 11 years old July 12, 2018

my favorite movie

its he best movie i think everyone should see it but their is some language and action to intense for younger viewers
Kid, 12 years old April 26, 2021

Robot violence

This movie is about robots who wrestle at arena. This movie has some mild language too. But it also has positive message that you need to never give up and figh... Continue reading

What's the story?

It's 2024, and one-time boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman) has no shame. He owes everyone money, and he abandoned his son, Max (Dakota Goyo), long ago. All he cares about is the next pay-off at the next match he arranges for the two-ton boxing robots that he pieces together from scrap parts. It's a life, if not a fulfilling one. But then his ex-girlfriend dies, leaving his son alone. His ex's sister (Hope Davis) desperately wants to adopt Max, so Charlie sees an opening: Why not make a deal with her husband for $100,000 for signing his parental rights over? But first Max must stay with Charlie until his aunt and uncle return from a European tour. Charlie hopes to leave his son with the daughter of his old coach (Evangeline Lilly), but Max isn't having any of it: He wants to join Charlie on the road. Before they know it, they're training what appears to be a genuine, previous-generation model championship fighter called Atom. But there's more than a bout at stake.

Is it any good?

REAL STEEL doesn't break new cinematic ground; it's an amalgam -- like the robots featured in it -- of many other movies (imagine Rocky meeting RoboCop). Can the audience predict what comes next, considering that it borrows so much from every other fight film (with a little father-son drama thrown in for good measure)? Duh.


Yet REAL STEEL is surprisingly enjoyable -- as long as you dial down your expectations. Yes, it's shlocky, but Goyo and Jackman share a believable chemistry, and the young actor is just plain terrific. (Lilly doesn't have much to work with, though what she does reminds us how great she is.) It's hard to believe how carried away you can get cheering on a pair of robots in a ring. Expect it to happen, so our advice is to just go with it.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Charlie and Max's relationship. How do they compare to other fathers and sons you've seen in the media? Are they relatable characters? Role models?

  • How do you feel about boxing, especially when it's all-out like the fights choreographed here? Does the violence have less impact since the robots are the ones primarily involved?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

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