The Fighter

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

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 17 reviews

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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.


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.


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.


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."


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 17-year-old Written byshadii April 20, 2011
love it
Teen, 16 years old Written bygrantk September 21, 2015

Violence is not in this movie at all... Boxing is a sport and its time CSM realized it

As a boxer myself and someone who understands the sport, I do not think boxing can constitute a CSM review of high violence. Boxing is a sport, not a violent ac... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byBestPicture1996 May 11, 2013

Inspiring, hard-hitting drama!

The extensive profanity in this film (boxers do have incredibly salty language I suppose) make it an older teen movie for sure, but boy is it gripping. Bale ha... 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports and biopics

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