Real Steel



Predictable but fun fight movie has lots of robot action.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: October 7, 2011
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Action/Adventure
  • Release Year: 2011
  • Running Time: 126 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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.

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.

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?


Does REAL STEEL break new cinematic ground? Hardly. Is it an amalgam -- like the robots featured in it -- of many other movies? Absolutely -- 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:October 7, 2011
DVD release date:January 24, 2012
Cast:Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Hugh Jackman
Director:Shawn Levy
Studio:Walt Disney Pictures
Run time:126 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:some violence, intense action, and brief language

This review of Real Steel was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byDouglas123 October 10, 2011

What is up will all the swearing Disney??????

Loved the movie but VERY DISAPPOINTED with the swearing, even the 11 year old was using b*tch and a**hole. Walt would role in his grave! Totally unnecessary for what could have been a great family movie!
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byXguitarzX October 15, 2011

one of the best ive seen in a while!! (:

I absolutely loved this movie and would definitely go see it again! It related to the movie rocky in a lot of ways too and was very entertaining. but there were some words used like s***, a**, and b***h even by the 11 year old and a couple scenes with alcohol(hence the pg-13 rating), but other than that it wasn't bad. the violence wasnt too intense for a boxing movie, but there was a part where Charlie(Hugh Jackman) is beat up by 3 other characters. the rest of the violence is just boxing robots, as expected. the sexual behavior wasnt too much of a concern, but there were scenes with girls in skimpy outfits and also a kissing scene. the consumerism throughout the movie was mostly ads in the arenas and other places you would expect ads to be. and though there are a few bad role models, there are also plenty of good role models and important lessons with positive messages. overall, i think this is a great movie for families with kids ages 10 and up.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Teen, 13 years old Written byBONES&BOOTH4EVER October 10, 2011

good, fun movie!

This movie was really clever how it played things out. Although predictable, it was quite sweet and rly fun to watch! There is some swearing including "s--t" used a couple times, but the movie itself is completely fine. Really worth watching!
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism


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