Real Steel (MPAA Rating: PG-13) Cast: Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, Evangeline Lilly, Anthony Mackie, Kevin Durand Directed by Shawn Levy
There are very few movies where I would tell you, go ahead, load up the minivan and bring the whole house, but this one is one of them! Real Steel combines elements of some of the greatest movies we 30-somethings grew up with, including Rocky IV, Over the Top, The Wizard, and even Wrestlemania, and to make it even more of a guilty pleasure for the boy within the dad, they add cool looking robots!
Hugh Jackman plays Charlie Kenton, a former boxer who never lived up to his potential. When boxing with humans becomes passe, Charlie uses pugilistic robots to entertain the crowds. Charlie’s flaws are many, including the inability to make a good bet, pay a debt, or remain stable. Despite those honorable traits, he is less than willing (without some monetary incentives) to care for a son he abandoned years ago when the boy’s mom died.
Enter Dakota Goyo, playing son Max, with a bucket full of sass and an eye for his dad’s business. Together they stumble upon a discarded robot once used to train other fighter bots, and together, the father/son team fight their way to the title match of the century.
This movie is just a load of fun. Jackman looks like he’s enjoying himself, all smiles and tight fitting t-shirts (which will keep the ladies’ attention). The kids will like the awesomeness of robots smashing robots in the squared circle, and you will, too. Goyo does really well as the bowl-cut kid who teaches the adult how to be a man, and the supporting characters are great additions to the story. Charlie’s love interest Bailey (Evangeline Lilly, Lost) is a fresh face and combines tough girl ‘tude with a warm heart. Anthony Mackie (The Adjustment Bureau) and Kevin Durand (X-men Origins) are the foils in the world of robo-boxing displaying the good, bad, and dangerous side of the non-human contact sport. Olga Fonda and Karl Yune play a stone faced remake of Rocky IV’s Drago and Ludmilla, wanting to win at any cost.
The movie is simultaneously surreal and completely realistic — set in the not-so-distant future, the bots are human controlled like 3-D video game avatars using various technologies that just may well be in existence in a few years, if not already. Of course, one starts to wonder how much of the bots are controlled and how much of it is their own will coming through, which is a testament to Shawn Levy’s direction. While the movie does have a noticeable level of camp, it only serves to elicit more nostalgia for those old 80s movies. I left the movie saying to myself – wow, I haven’t had this much fun in a movie since, well… the 80’s!
Your Daddy time – Wasted or Worth It? Pack up the Van Dads, this one is definitetly WORTH IT. 4 out of 5 stars
The Worth It/Wasted Rating System is for dads who need to know one thing- Is this movie WORTH IT to:
* Pack up the kids, bags, etc and trek to the theater – or
* Find a babysitter so Dad can have a date night – or
* Cash in brownie points with the Mrs. so he can go with his buddies
If it doesn’t fit these simple criteria, the movie gets the WASTED rating, which means – don’t waste the precious time you have, wait for video/cable when you can squeeze it between chores, work and sleep.