Parents' Guide to

The Champ

By Tom Cassidy, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Emotional family drama has alcohol, gambling, violence.

Movie PG 1979 121 minutes
The Champ: movie poster

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This 1979 drama has moments of excitement to keep it interesting and heaps of real emotion, making it a compelling drama. But while you shouldn't expect to maintain dry eyes, The Champ is much more than a misery parade. In his first ever role, Ricky Schroder perfectly captures the rollercoaster of emotions of T.J., the eight-year-old son of Voight's troubled Billy. The film is packed with moving scenes, with complex, non-judgmental depictions of well-written characters. Under the direction of Franco Zeffirelli, Voight and Dunaway play Billy and his estranged ex-wife Annie to remarkable effect. During their first meeting in the movie, the characters' bitter history and volatile love fizzes in a performance that gives goosebumps.

However, it's the scenes between father and son that hit hardest. T.J. always calls his father "The Champ," almost willing him to be the man he wishes he was and not the man he has to put to bed when he's drunk. Billy believes his bluster, too, and when he hits a winning streak, celebrates by making a show of it, buying everyone gifts. Sure, T.J. likes the racehorse Billy buys him, but that money might have been better spent on something more domestic. As with all of Billy's grand plans, don't expect a happy ending.

Movie Details

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