The Fighter

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Fighter Movie Poster Image
Boxing biopic mixes inspiring story, mature content.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 115 minutes
Popular with kidsParents recommend

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 17 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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."

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11, 13, and 13 year old Written bylisamisa March 31, 2011
I agree with most of the official review. Great movie for older teens! Review failed to mention that there was a prostitution sceen where it is implied that the... Continue reading
Parent of a 4, 10, and 14 year old Written bygratefuldavid February 19, 2011

For older teens

The complex relationships along with the violent fight scenes make this a movie that I don't think many kids could wrap their heads around. It's grea... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byTeenZork March 25, 2011

great movie with great messages, drugs are scary

Teaches you to never give up. Micky is a great role model throughout, and in the end Dicky becomes one too by becoming clean. The only thing iffy in the movie i... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byTheCritic14 January 3, 2011

Movie of the Year

I can say this is one of the best films of the year, great performances from the cast, good messages, just a great movie. It is iffy for some, the fight scenes... Continue reading

What's the story?

Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) is a hero of Lowell, Mass., having fought Sugar Ray Leonard and knocked him down. While Dicky -- who's now a crack junkie and can't really handle any serious affairs -- prepares for his "comeback," his younger brother, Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg), is on the rise. With the help of his new girlfriend, Charlene Fleming (Amy Adams), Mickey must eventually decide to leave his family behind to seriously concentrate on his career. Can he make it on his own, or does he really need the help of his unreliable older brother?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's violence. How did the boxing scenes affect you? How does this kind of violence compare to what you see in big-budget action movies? Which has greater impact?

  • Did Mickey make the right choice by leaving his family behind to further his career? Should he have had to make that choice at all?

  • Was Dicky Eklund an inspirational character? Do you believe he actually knocked Sugar Ray down? Why would he live a life of drugs after such glory?

Movie details

For kids who love sports and biopics

Our editors recommend

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate