Parents' Guide to

When We Were Kings

By Renee Longstreet, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Thrilling boxing docu covers race, politics; some profanity.

Movie PG 1997 84 minutes
When We Were Kings Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 13+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 10+

Muhammad Ali was arguably the most influential American figure - not just in sports - of the late 20th century.

This is a perfect film to show kids the value of sacrifice and sticking to your beliefs. Ali gave up everything on principle - and he fought back, against all odds, to reclaim what was rightfully his. Add that to the sheer drama of the fight itself, which may have been the greatest in heavyweight history (it certainly was the greatest comeback and biggest upset in heavyweight history.) Finally, you’ve got huge cultural context; a clear-eyed view on race; and the amazing commentary by a pair of literary giants, Norman Mailer and George Plimpton. There’s violence, a little nudity, and a great soundtrack. Every kid should know who Ali was, and this movie is probably the best way to accomplish that goal.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models
age 15+


Very informative . I wasn’t looking forward to watching (my dads choice) as I thought it was all about Muhammad Ali. It is so much more. Very historical . About the 70’s , blacks and segregation, unforgettable musicians (like BB King)

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This beautifully realized documentary integrates sports, racial politics, African-American musical performances, celebrity testimony, and the singular iconic personality of Muhammad Ali. Driven by his profound commitment to black pride and pursuing the values of his Muslim faith, Ali sees his comeback fight against the reigning world champion boxer George Foreman as a defining moment for all people of color. He fills the screen with his talent, his quick mind, and his larger-then-life magnetism. When We Were Kings took more than 20 years to reach theatrical screens due to legal disputes, but when it was finally released in 1996, it was universally acclaimed, winning many major awards, including the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. Interestingly, director Leon Gast has stated that, had the film been released in a timely manner (mid-1970s), the emphasis almost certainly would have been different, and the 20-plus-year interval allowed for the perspective of Ali's growing influence and popularity. Entertaining, informative, and endlessly creative, this film is not just for boxing fans. A few uses of the "N" word and a brief glimpse of female breasts, along with extensive hard-hitting boxing sequences, make it best for teens and up.

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