Parents' Guide to

The Iron Claw

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 15+

Mature, thoughtful true story of 1980s wrestling brothers.

Movie R 2023 132 minutes
The Iron Claw Movie Poster: Against a black background, five men of the Von Erich huddle together in a wrestling ring

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 1 parent review

age 17+

Does God have an Iron Claw?

The Common Sense review of this movie covers the major themes, and describes that this is great movie for adults and older teens. It’s about the Von Erich family’s disfunction and portrays professional wresting in a way that made me more interested in this “ performance sport”. But it is a realistic and sad movie, albeit with themes about faith and family. Kevin Von Erich is a professing Christian, but this movie portrays him realistically and focuses on the terrible tragedies in his family. It’s not a faith based movie, but more a more serious film about the agony of wrestling with life. There are some deep themes, including an emphasis on family. In spite of how harsh the father is, all of the brothers truly love each other. Even when they compete against one another, they are thinking of the other. The main character, Kevin shows agape and philia love as he protect his siblings. There are also important spiritual themes in this movie that need to be mentioned. One of the brothers describes how their parents loved them : “Mom tried to protect us with God. Pop tried to protect us with wrestling.” The mother’s staunch faith and Catholicism barely counterbalances the father’s demands for perfection. And this movie beautifully and symbolically portrays the redemption that gives hope for believers in God: “All things will be made new”. After one of the brothers (Kerry) commits suicide, there is a beautiful scene where he is on a boat in the afterlife, and floats across to a pier where his brothers ( including one who died in childhood) are waiting. Their long, tender embrace is one of the most profound messages of the movie.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1 ):
Kids say (1 ):

Writer/director Sean Durkin tells this incredible true story with welcome introspection and a soft touch that takes its time and finds an undercurrent of emotion. Biographical movies that take place over a span of time often get lost in the blocky, chapter-like telling of what happened, forgetting to imagine what it felt like. The Iron Claw, even with its unwieldy (and somewhat truncated) story, avoids that flat, chunky approach and gets it just right. So many moments that could have become clichéd are instead given unexpected depth. For example, Tierney's character could have been lost in the shuffle among the men, but she gets a couple of small scenes that open an entire inner world for her.

And even while Durkin provides plenty of wrestling action, he never passes up a chance to show character depth amongst the pummeling; whether it's a look or a small exchange, these moments contain volumes. Viewers get a strong sense of the family's bond, too, expressed by strong performances from both the newcomers and Efron, who has become a genuine pro. Even the plot, which relies somewhat on random misfortunes, starts to feel organic; indeed, it takes on greater and greater significance, raising questions of destiny and control. How much can we really direct the flow of our lives? But as tragic as it is, The Iron Claw finally reaches out to find hints of forgiveness and compassion. It's an unforgettable movie.

Movie Details

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