A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
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?
For kids who love sports and biopics
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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.