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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is about beating the odds, overcoming challenges, empathy, and, ultimately, staying true to yourself. There are also complex messages relating to family: The hero must decide whether to leave his family behind to further his career; the point is made subtly but clearly that his family doesn't actually have his best interests in mind, and it makes sense that he should make the tough decision to move ahead.
Positive Role Models
Mickey is a fairly inspirational hero. He's a good fighter who lives in the shadow of his brother and therefore doesn't get the consideration he deserves from his family. He must make the very tough decisions to leave them behind to further his career and to stand up to them to get everything he wants and deserves. He doesn't give up easily, even when he's facing impossible odds and defeat looks almost certain.
Violence & Scariness
Lots of boxing violence, including punching, hitting, pummeling, and some spattering blood. The heroes get into a fight with the cops, and the cops smash the hero's hand with a billy club. The hero's girlfriend gets into a knock-down, drag-out fight with the hero's sisters, cousins, and mothers.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The main character's love interest, who works in a bar, wears skimpy clothes on the job and is shown as the object of men's sexual gaze. She and the hero kiss, seduce one another, and sleep together (no graphic nudity). She also appears in a see-through bra in one scene. Secondary characters are occasionally seen kissing and groping.
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Heavy language includes many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "bastard," "c--ksucker," "d--k," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," "goddamn," and "oh my God."
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Products & Purchases
HBO and Budweiser are mentioned, and the logos are shown several times in conjunction with big-time boxing matches.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An important secondary character has a drug problem. He's seen smoking crack, and the movie shows how the drug ruins his life. He becomes the subject of a documentary about "crackheads." Characters are also often seen drinking socially and smoking cigarettes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this biopic about boxer Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) grapples with some very tough themes -- including weighing the importance of family versus the importance of a career and exerting your own true self. While the characters and messages are ultimately positive, the movie is filled with boxing violence, some of it bloody, and strong language, including "f--k" and "s--t." There's no nudity, but characters are shown flirting, kissing, and sleeping together. And in addition to plenty of drinking and smoking, one major character is portrayed as a crack addict. Taken altogether, the movie is too rough for younger teens but inspirational for older, more mature viewers. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
In his career, director David O. Russell has established himself as an outsider/maverick, but THE FIGHTER is a fairly conventional boxing biopic with very few surprises. Russell starts off using an interesting idea -- having an HBO documentary crew following Dicky around -- but halfway through The Fighter, the documentary is finished and the gimmick is no longer needed. After that, the movie becomes fairly standard.
But even though Russell can't find much of anything new to say here, he still makes The Fighter an emotionally complex drama that's filled with rich characters and tough decisions (as well as uniformly excellent performances). Not everything is clear or easy in this movie, and it's a good deal deeper and thornier than The Hurricane, Ali, or Cinderella Man, even if it's less masterful than Raging Bull.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.