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"NEVER BACK DOWN"
(2008) (Sean Faris, Djimon Hounsou) (PG-13)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Moderate Moderate Extreme Mild None
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Heavy None Mild Minor Moderate
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Heavy None Heavy Heavy Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: A high school student must contend with his past while dealing with a popular bully who wants to fight him.
PLOT:
Jake Tyler (SEAN FARIS) is the star player on his high school football team where he's a legend for his hard-hitting tackles. Yet, since his younger brother, Charlie (WYATT HENRY SMITH), is a budding tennis prodigy, they and their widowed mother, Margot (LESLIE HOPE) move from Iowa to Orlando where the younger Tyler boy will receive additional training.

No longer possessing the desire to play football, Jake somewhat mopes around his new school, although an educated answer in class does draw the attention of the attractive Baja Miller (AMBER HEARD). She ends up inviting him to a big party, but his presence there is nothing more than a set-up. Having seen his moves on the Internet -- as well as his attempts to protect Max Cooperman (EVAN PETERS) from what he thinks is a beating but really is a mutually agreed upon fight -- Ryan McCarthy (CAM GIGANDET) knows he must beat up Jake in public to prove he's still the big man on campus.

He's successful and Jake is mad at Baja for setting him up, but Max convinces the new student that he should attend a mixed martial arts class with him. Its trainer, Jean Roqua (DJIMON HOUNSOU), is a no-nonsense instructor who lives in the gym and tells his students that they must work hard, and that any fighting outside of class will result in immediate expulsion.

As Jean and Jake clash while also working through their various past familial issues -- both having family members separately die because of their actions and inactions -- they end up bonding, all of which helps Jake prepare for a rematch with Ryan.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
The high school and mixed martial arts elements might be enticing to some, while fans of anyone in the cast might also be interested.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG-13
For mature thematic material involving intense sequences of fighting/violence, some sexuality, partying and language - all involving teens.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • SEAN FARIS plays a troubled teen who used to take out his anger and guilt over his father's death (allowing him to drive drunk in the past) on the football field via hard hits, but now finds himself without such an outlet at his new school. After Ryan publicly beats him up, he starts studying under Jean, although the two clash and Jake's lack of discipline and respect for himself and others constantly threatens to undermine his efforts. Although he doesn't want to, he fights Ryan several times, and uses some profanity.
  • DJIMON HOUNSOU plays a mixed martial arts instructor who tries to train Jake (and others) in mind and spirit as well as body, but is hiding from his painful, familial past. He clashes with Jake, and uses some profanity.
  • CAM GIGANDET plays the school bully who thinks he proves his worth by beating up any potential competitor in public. We briefly see that this stems from having a competitive/abusive father, but Ryan seems to enjoy his physical superiority over others. He beats up various students and uses some profanity.
  • AMBER HEARD plays his girlfriend who acts like she's attracted to Jake just to lure him into a fight with Ryan. She eventually sees the error of her ways and tries to make things right.
  • EVAN PETERS a high school student who befriends Jake and introduces him to training with Jean. He fights some.
  • WYATT HENRY SMITH plays Jake's younger brother who's good at both tennis and trivia.
  • LESLIE HOPE plays Jake's widowed mother who's frustrated by how her oldest son is behaving.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    The following is a brief summary of the content found in this drama that's been rated PG-13. Profanity consists of at least 12 "s" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also uttered. Two young women make out in a hot tub, while some heterosexual making out later occurs. Various young women are seen in revealing attire, while various males are seen shirtless.

    Violence consists of various fights, both in an out of a mixed martial arts class, with some of the blows being fairly brutal. Some of that has bloody results, might be unsettling to some viewers, and may be enticing for some kids to imitate (along with other behavior seen in the film).

    Various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes, tense family material is also present, and various characters (including teens) drink in several scenes, while a fatal case of drunk driving is referenced (and the intoxicated driver is seen in flashback) and a brief drug reference is made.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed listings for more specific information regarding the film's content.

    For those concerned with bright flashes of light on the screen, there are strobe effects in a club scene late in the film, while a later sequence shows a quick succession of flash images.

    For those prone to visually induced motion sickness, there are varying amounts of camera movement (including lots of handheld) in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Jake loses it in a football game when another player taunts him about his dead father, saying it's too bad about the old man, the sauce (booze) and "that sh*t will kill you." Jake then attacks that player for that.
  • When Jake asks Baja if she's named after the place, she says no, it was "like my parents smoked too much weed" (for the unusual name).
  • Students drink beer at a party where Max asks Jake if he wants one, but Jake doesn't (and Ryan just has water as well).
  • Ryan brings up Jake's dad wrapping his "drunk ass" around a tree.
  • A song has a lyric about sipping on champagne.
  • We see flashback images of Jake allowing his intoxicated father to take the keys, but we don't see any drunk driving.
  • Ryan's father holds a margarita and offers it to an underage high school student.
  • People (presumably including some high school students) have drinks in a club.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • During a fight, Jake has some blood on his face, with more coming out in slow motion when Ryan kicks Jake in the face. The next morning, he has dried blood from his eye and mouth, as well as various bruises.
  • We see Charlie with a black eye, and initially think he was punched, but he finally admits that a tennis ball hit him there.
  • After downing raw eggs, Max either spits them out or vomits them up.
  • Ryan punches Max and then does so again and again, pummeling him (we see the first part of that, but not the latter). Later, we see Max with a badly bruised face with various large stitches.
  • Jake is a little bloody while fighting in an elimination contest.
  • Ryan is a little bit bloody after Jake beats him up.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Jake loses it in a football game when another player taunts him about his dead father, saying it's too bad about the old man, the sauce (booze) and "that sh*t will kill you." Jake then attacks that player for that.
  • Jake's mom reminds him that he's been kicked out of school twice and arrested six times, and he sports a bad attitude, especially in regard to her.
  • We see various people fighting at a party, both competitively and out of spite, including a girl beating up her ex-boyfriend consisting of kicks to the gut and face. We also see two girls fighting each other, with punches, struggling, etc.
  • Baja invites Jake to a party, but only on behalf of Ryan who wants to fight him there (the rest of the student partygoers there want to see that as well). Jake doesn't want to, but isn't allowed to leave, and Ryan kisses Baja to try to make Jake jealous and then plays on Jake's sore spot (his deceased dad) to make him angry enough to fight. While beating him up, Ryan tells Jake, "It's gotta end with you looking like a bitch in front of everybody."
  • After Baja breaks up with Ryan, he's mad and mean to her, saying that when she moved there, she was nothing, and that he made her (popular). He also grabs at her.
  • Mad about Ryan, Jake takes that out on other students at Jean Roqua's class, as well as Jean Roqua. When Jean Roqua calls him on that, Jake responds by taunting him with "At least I have a home."
  • Some punks behind Max keep blowing their vehicle's horn at him and Jake, prompting the latter to get out and confront them. One calls Jake a "faggot" and tries to intimidate and fight him, but Jake beats up all three (with brutal blows, kicks, and bashing one's head to a side-view mirror).
  • Ryan tells others, "You guys sound like a bunch of bitches."
  • Ryan's father holds a margarita and offers it to an underage high school student. He then smacks Ryan in front of the teen's friends (reminding him about how to behave -- in regards to being competitive and winning, etc.).
  • Ryan punches Max and then does so again and again, pummeling him (we see the first part of that, but not the latter). Later, we see Max with a badly bruised face with various large stitches. This is done to try to spur on Jake into fighting Ryan for revenge.
  • We see various fights in a fighting competition. During that, Ryan gouges an opponent's eyes to win (but is disqualified for that).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence" (specifically some of the brutal fighting) may be unsettling or suspenseful to younger viewers and/or those with low tolerance levels for such material.
  • Max accepts a ride with Ryan, and we know that's going to lead to something bad.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • None.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "That sh*t will kill you," "American Pie bullsh*t," "You ain't got sh*t," "That's bullsh*t," "That is such bullsh*t," "You look like sh*t," "You want some of this, bitches?" "What up?" "Dude," "Damn right," "Like my parents smoked too much weed," "Sucking up," "Hotter than Satan's balls," "Nice shirt, Kurt Cobain," "Brainiac," "Happy as hell," "Looked like an ass-kicking to me," "You're a natural born brawler," "Bitch," "Get the hell out of here," "What the hell /you doing here/was that?" "Where the hell are you going?" "Drunk ass," "It's gotta end with you looking like a bitch in front of everybody," "You're insane," "Got his ass handed to him," "Whatever, dude," "Friggin,'" "Why do you have to be such a jerk?" "I kicked his ass," "Faggot," "You idiot," "You guys sound like a bunch of bitches," "How's it going, bad-ass?" "Enjoy the floor," "Frickin,'" "I'm pissed off," "Screwed up," "I acted like an asshole," "Babes -- one thing better than brawling," "You assholes," "Back the hell up," "Get the hell in," "One hell of a fall" and "I'll beat your ass."
  • The various bits of training and fighting (including, briefly, girl-on-girl) might be enticing for some kids to imitate.
  • Ryan has some tattoos.
  • We see miscellaneous tattoos.
  • We briefly see some miscellaneous characters doing water stunts on boards, etc.
  • Jake's mom throws a glass or plate against the wall, followed by Charlie doing the same (with her permission).
  • Max and Jake tap fists as a greeting.
  • We see a miscellaneous guy with a pierced eyebrow.
  • We see a miscellaneous man with a stripe of color down through his hair, while another has a real Mohawk haircut.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A mild amount of suspenseful and ominous music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • A song has a lyric about sipping on champagne.
  • Some songs had lyrics that we couldn't fully hear and/or understand, thus presenting the possibility of them potentially containing something objectionable.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 12 "s" words, 14 asses (3 used with "hole"), 9 hells, 3 damns, 2 uses of "Oh my God" and 1 use of "Jesus."
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • We see a miscellaneous high school football player in just a towel.
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • We see two teenage girls kissing in a hot tub at a party. When they get out, they're covered in suds and/or bubbles and initially appear nude, but we then see that they're in swimsuits. We then see many other teens in various styles of swimsuits, including skimpy bikinis that show a lot of skin and cleavage.
  • We see Baja in a low-cut dress that shows cleavage as well as the shape of her nipples under the fabric.
  • We see Ryan shirtless for a fight, followed by Jake removing his shirt as well.
  • We see Jake shirtless on several occasions.
  • We see various shirtless young men in Jean Roqua's combat club.
  • We see Baja in a low-cut top.
  • We see Jean Roqua shirtless.
  • We see a teen in a bikini that shows a lot of cleavage. We then see Baja in a small bikini that also shows cleavage.
  • Jake and Baja briefly but passionately kiss. They then do some playful sparring (clothed) with both alternating being on top of the other. Charlie interrupts them and wonders what they're doing, with them replying that they were wrestling. During that, we also see the top of what appears to be her thong underwear partially sticking up from her pants. Charlie later playfully comments on the "wrestling."
  • We see miscellaneous cleavage.
  • We see Jake, Ryan, and other shirtless guys at a fight competition.
  • SMOKING
  • None.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Jake loses it in a football game when another player taunts him about his dead father, saying it's too bad about the old man, the sauce (booze) and "that sh*t will kill you." Jake then attacks that player for that.
  • Jake has a tense relationship with his mom, and this plays out in various scenes. Charlie also asks Jake if he hates him (for being the reason they've moved from Iowa to Orlando -- Jake says he doesn't). They then find an old sweatshirt that belonged to their dad.
  • Jean Roqua tells the story of his younger brother being a proficient fighter who was shot in the head and killed by an angry man. Jean Roqua then says he couldn't face his father after that, and hasn't see him or the rest of the family since then (adding that his father previously said that both sons died -- to him -- when the one was murdered).
  • Ryan's father smacks him in front of the teen's friends (reminding him about how to behave -- in regards to being competitive and winning, etc.).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Ryan wanting to fight mostly for the adulation and popularity.
  • Dealing with bullies.
  • Dealing with guilt.
  • Drunk driving.
  • A minor character is seemingly portrayed as being gay.
  • Jake's mom reminds him that he's been kicked out of school twice and arrested six times.
  • Jean Roqua's comment that the secret behind the combat fighting is controlling one's breathing.
  • The comment that doing nothing has consequences just like doing something.
  • VIOLENCE
  • There's standard contact in a high school football game, as well as Jake delivering some hard blows and tackles. After another player makes a disparaging remark about Jake's dad, Jake goes after that guy, trying to hit him with his helmet. He punches another, flips a third, and a general melee breaks out between the teams.
  • Jake comes across a guy fighting with Max (he doesn't know the latter at this point). Not realizing he is willingly fighting, Jake steps in to save Max (who's taking a beating) and punches his opponent, with a person then hitting Jake in the back of the head.
  • We see video footage of some fighting/training from Jean Roqua's class.
  • We see various people fighting at a party, both competitively and out of spite, including a girl beating up her ex-boyfriend consisting of kicks to the gut and face. We also see two girls fighting each other, with punches, struggling, etc.
  • Ryan picks a fight with Jake who eventually gets mad enough that he pushes Ryan down. The two then exchange blows (punches, kicks, etc.), but Ryan gets the upper-hand and delivers various brutal blows, leaving Jake bloodied then and with bruises and dried blood on his face the next morning.
  • We see martial arts style contact in training in Jean Roqua's club.
  • After Baja breaks up with Ryan, he's mad and mean to her, grabbing at her.
  • Mad about Ryan, Jake takes that out on other students at Jean Roqua's class, as well as Jean Roqua, fighting with all of them.
  • Some punks behind Max keep blowing their vehicle's horn at him and Jake, prompting the latter to get out and confront them. One calls Jake a "faggot" and tries to intimidate and fight him, but Jake beats up all three (with brutal blows, kicks, and bashing one's head to a side-view mirror).
  • Ryan trips Jake to the floor and then pushes his foot down hard on his neck. When Ryan departs, he delivers a hard kick to Jake's leg, leaving him limping moments later.
  • We see video of Ryan punching a guy in a fight competition.
  • Jake's mom throws a glass or plate against the wall, followed by Charlie doing the same (with her permission).
  • Jean Roqua and Jake do training that includes punching each other in the gut.
  • Ryan's father smacks him in front of the teen's friends (reminding him about how to behave -- in regards to being competitive and winning, etc.).
  • Ryan punches Max and then does so again and again, pummeling him (we see the first part of that, but not the latter). Later, we see Max with a badly bruised face with various large stitches.
  • We see various fights in a fighting competition, with punches, kicks and more. During the elimination rounds, Jake takes various harsh blows, including to his ribs, while Ryan gouges an opponent's eyes to win (but is disqualified for that).
  • Jake and Ryan fight in a parking lot, exchanging blows (punches, kicks and such). During this, Ryan twice slams Jake down hard onto a car hood, and then onto the hard pavement, while also hitting him in his already injured and sore ribs.



  • Reviewed February 21, 2008 / Posted March 14, 2008

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