The Iron Claw Parent Guide
A tragic tale, well told, but too dark for family viewing.
Parent Movie Review
Fritz Von Erich (Holt McCallany) was a middling pro-wrestler, but by the end of his career he’s built up a dynasty. His sons Kevin (Zac Efron) and David (Harris Dickinson) have followed him into the business, and Kerry (Jeremy Allen White) is set to play for the United States in the next summer Olympics. Fritz is less impressed with Mike, who doesn’t seem to have the aptitude for the rigors of the ring.
The choreographed battles between the ropes don’t hold a candle to the real problem - the Von Erich family curse. As the tragedies multiply, the surviving sons begin to wonder how much that curse is going to cost them.
For all the glitz and glam of professional wrestling, this isn’t a flashy sports flick. Wrestling is the family business, and the cause of a lot of family tragedy, but this movie isn’t about the business; it’s about the family. The Iron Claw is so harrowing that you really hope the screenwriter was exaggerating, and while the film certainly isn’t 100% accurate (they never are), it doesn’t pull any punches. The intensifying horrors of the lives of the Von Erich brothers just keep coming down on you like a ton of bricks.
Ther cast all put in superb performances, but I’d like to give a shout-out to Zac Efron, who puts in his career best in this movie. Of course, that’s helped by a strong script which skillfully manages some of the complex ins and outs of a family drama. I should warn you that the Parents Von Erich are up for some bad parenting awards, and by the end of the film you’re going to want to strangle them. Not a complaint; it’s a sign of effective filmmaking, but you know. Bring a stress ball.
I also wouldn’t bring your kids. The film got a Restricted rating for a reason. There are several depictions of brutal injury and a number of suicides – on top of which you get profanity, brief drug use, and scenes of a sexual nature. But as hard-hitting tragic dramas go, none of this negative content is outside the norm. The bigger question is whether you’ve got the emotional energy for the seemingly endless heartache this family endures, both the ones they cause themselves and the ones that seem to fall from the sky. As the guy I passed on the way out of the theater said to his friend: “Man, that was a good movie, but that was rough, dude.” That about sums it up, I think.
Directed by Sean Durkin. Starring Zac Efron, Jeremy Allen White, Harris Dickinson. Running time: 130 minutes. Theatrical release December 22, 2023. Updated December 22, 2023
Watch the trailer for The Iron Claw
The Iron Claw
Rating & Content Info
Why is The Iron Claw rated R? The Iron Claw is rated R by the MPAA for language, suicide, some sexuality and drug use
Violence: People sustain serious injury when struck during the course of wrestling matches. A character is seen vomiting blood; he later dies. An individual deliberately overdoses on prescription medication. A character commits suicide with a gun just off-screen. Dead bodies are seen with injuries. A person is seen with crutches for support after an amputation resulting from a motorcycle accident.
Sexual Content: Characters are seen making out in a car and discussing sex. There is a brief scene of posterior male nudity, and a brief scene of implied masturbation.
Profanity:. There are 15 sexual expletives, several scatological curses, and regular use of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Characters are frequently seen drinking alcohol. A character snorts cocaine and abuses prescription medication.
Page last updated December 22, 2023
Related home video titles:
Another look at the hard-knock world of professional wrestling is Fighting with my Family. Mexican lucha libre wrestling gets some love in Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre. Sports flicks about the toll taken on athletes include Raging Bull, Concussion, Ali, Big George Foreman, American Fighter, Born a Champion, and Million Dollar Baby.