T-Rex

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
T-Rex Movie Poster Image
Inspirational yet troubling, edgy doc about female boxer.
  • NR
  • 2016
  • 90 minutes

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Kids say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

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

Positive Messages

Perseverance, dedication, and confidence are important and can lead to success. Obstacles (socio-economic, interpersonal, athletic) are overcome, and there's a strong hope for the future. (As of June, 2016, Claressa Shields has qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games.) But there's conflict and pain, too.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Claressa -- winner of the first gold medal ever given for female boxing in the Olympic Games -- is a strong, confident young woman who looks forward to a life of possibility. She works very hard for her dream and never gives in to temptation. She does her schoolwork, and, even though she has a boyfriend, she refuses to "go all the way" with him. She sometimes seems to be a little too fixated on the monetary rewards connected to her success, but that's easily understood (and forgiven) given her socio-economic background. The parents/adults in her life range from being supportive and present to irresponsible and abusive.

Violence

Several competitive boxing matches, with hard punches thrown. Grappling/punching during gym training. Some arguing, accusations, tension at home. Mentions of a mother's boyfriend being a "pervert." Mention of a drunken mother trying to hit her teen children. Joking threat of a father hitting a teen daughter ("you'll see stars"). Angry spitting.

Sex

Warnings to a teenage girl to stay away from boys. Flirting/romance.

Language

Regular use of strong language, including "f--k," "motherf----r," "s--t," "bitch," "damn," "Goddamn," "crackhead," and "pervert," plus "oh my f---ing God."

Consumerism

Coca-Cola cans and bottles visible. Dinner at Applebee's. Characters eager for endorsement deals.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to a teen smoking pot and cigarettes. Reference to an adult being a crackhead. Reference to an adult frequently drinking and getting drunk. An adult holds a paper-wrapped bottle. Smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that T-Rex is a documentary about Claressa Shields, the first Olympic gold medal winner for women's boxing. It's a terrific, if slightly troublesome, portrait of a strong, young woman. Claressa is confident, works hard, and achieves her goals, though she's let down by the lack of monetary return for her work. Several boxing sequences show hard punches, and there's some talk about and threats of violence and inappropriate behavior at home, as well as strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "bitch," etc.) and warnings about teen sex and the possibility of getting pregnant. There are drug references and indications that some of the characters may be heavy drinkers. Even given the focus on endorsement deals and financial gain, the movie also has Claressa looking forward to a future full of possibility.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written byxMovieReviewer_ June 24, 2016

Brilliant and intense boxing documentary is slow but true and brutal.

My rating:R for brutal boxing violence, language throughout, and drug references.

What's the story?

In T-REX, while growing up in Flint, Mich., with an absent father, a drunk mother, and her mother's "disrespectful" boyfriend, Claressa Shields began pursuing boxing at age 11. Working for years with trainer Jason Crutchfield, she shows a natural aptitude for the sport, and it even seems to make her a better person; she trains hard, does her schoolwork, and keeps her distance from boys. In 2012, Claressa qualifies for the U.S. Olympic team, the first year that female boxing is an official event. And after a few setbacks, she manages to take the gold medal. But when Claressa, her family, and Jason begin to envision a brighter future, things take a turn.

Is it any good?

This skillful, intuitive documentary manages to read between the lines, capturing something quite a bit deeper than a typical sports story, finding bitter desperation along with victory. Co-directed by Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper, T-Rex has the expected training sequences, interviews, details about women's boxing, and, of course, some actual matches. Some of the latter turn into painful defeats, and some are happy victories.

But what really comes out are the harsh, desperate living conditions in Flint, Mich., and the desperate hope that everyone surrounding Claressa will be able to hitch themselves to a gold medal and get out. Her trainer, Jason, is subtly but constantly battling with his dreams and his ego, and Claressa is stuck between fame and still having to struggle to pay a water bill. Even so, the filmmakers latch on to an unstoppable streak in Claressa, and things end on a hopeful note. (As of June, 2016, she qualified for the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.)

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