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The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat




Rated PG-13 - for language and smoking.
Director: George Clooney
Starring: Callum Turner, Joel Edgerton, Peter Guinness, Hadley Robinson, Courtney Henggeler
Running Time: 2 hours, 4 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2023

Blu-Ray Release Date: June 25, 2024 (Amazon.com)


READER RATING:   


Plot Summary

A 1930s-set story centered on the University of Washington's rowing team, from their Depression-era beginnings to winning gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. (from IMDB)


Film Review

Acclaimed actor George Clooney returns to the director's chair this year to bring Danie James Brown's 2013 novel, The Boys in the Boat, to life on the big screen. The book, and film, revolve around the true story of the 1936 University of Washington rowing team. The film follows one of those team members, Joe Rantz -- a student who struggles with poverty while trying to be able to continue going to the university. In an effort to keep paying tuition, Rantz tries out for the rowing team - which promises to pay its members - and becomes one of the few chosen to join the team.

The Boys in the Boat
Clooney has been in the director's seat before, bringing other period dramas into view with Leatherheads, The Monuments Men and Good Night, and Good Luck. Clooney has also, more recently, directed films exclusively for streaming services, namely The Midnight Sky for Netflix and The Tender Bar for Amazon. He's proven to be a rather versatile and competent director, too, but it's his period films that seem to be the sweet spot for him. Perhaps it has to do with his father's past work with hosting shows for the AMC channel - when they actually showed only classic Hollywood films - but these films feel like loving homages to an era in film long gone.

For The Boys in the Boat, Rantz is played by Callum Turner (Emma., the Fantastic Beasts series), who is perfect here as our everyday man. Joel Edgerton steps in as the coach, Al Ulbrickson, turning in a strong and inspired performance as the stoic and tenacious ringleader for the rowing team. Heck, part of what makes The Boys in the Boat a delight to watch is the strong performances all around. Peter Guinness as boat maker George Pocock, Sam Strike as Roger, Jack Mulhern as Don, Thomas Elms as Chuck... I could name everyone, really. The few ladies in the film, are also lovely; Hadley Robinson is positively adorable as the object of Joe's affection, Joyce, while Courtney Henggeler as Al's wife Hazel proves to be an appropriate complement to his character's strong presence. There really isn't a weak spot in the cast, and I have to hand it to Clooney for getting the best out of these actors.

The Boys in the Boat
What helps make The Boys in the Boat as strong as it is, is its downright heartwarming underdog story. There is drama sprinkled throughout the story, but some of the predictable tropes of a tale like this surprisingly don't turn out to be what actually happens. Half the time, you're on the edge of your seat as the tension mounts, expecting something like oars to splinter or something else horrendous to occur, but it never does. That isn't to say the tension is unwarranted; several of the fellas have their own personal drama they're wrestling with, and it helps add a little more depth to the characters in the process. In the end, however, we find The Boys in the Boat to be a wonderful story of American triumph hitting the screen at a time when our society is in desperate need of it. We've come along way since the technology-free times of 1936, and it's refreshing to revisit this unique time in history. It also can help us appreciate what we have today -- especially when we see Rantz living out of the shell of a car and sporting raggedy clothing.

If there's anything to possibly nitpick about the film, it might be its length. The movie feels just a hair too long, although it'd be tough to figure out just what parts to cut out to trim it down. That's really its only possible detractor, though.

The Boys in the Boat
The content, I'd have to say, barely warrants its PG-13 rating. There are a few uses of the "S" word, but it is infrequent, and there are a few uses of blasphemy muttered on occasion. Any kind of graphic content is entirely limited to a very brief view of raw blisters on Joe's palm. There are a couple sexual references in the film, including a girl asking a guy to take her somewhere where he can exhibit for her the strength he uses to row, and Al's wife suggestively tells him to leave the outdoor view he's pensively observing to check out the view indoors, and we see she's dropped her slip in the doorway. Joyce also takes Joe back to her dorm room where they kiss and possibly intend to do more, but they're caught and Joe is forced to make a quick exit. Later in the film, we see Joe lying awake in bed, staring at the ceiling, when Joyce comes and lies beside him (no sexual activity is hinted at, though).

When all is said and done, The Boys in the Boat is a wonderful end-of-the-year cinematic surprise. It's heartwarming, encouraging, and inspiring. It's a classic American underdog story with strong acting and gorgeous cinematography, and told in an entertaining way that keeps your interest all the way through. Definitely consider checking it out this holiday season.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 12/14/23)

 

 

Blu-Ray Review


George Clooney's latest directorial project, The Boys in the Boat, is now available at digital retailers, as well as on Blu-Ray disc and DVD. When we received the Blu-Ray disc set for review, I was surprised to discover that there isn't one single special feature included with the movie. The Blu-Ray disc includes a digital copy (no DVD), but you can ONLY redeem it at Fandango At Home (formerly VUDU). If you're an Apple digital copy collector (or any other digital retailer for that matter), this set won't help with that. While you can purchase the film in a 4K UHD resolution from retailers, the movie is NOT available on a physical 4K UHD disc. Also, the Fandango digital copy is HD, not 4K (You might think that would be obvious, but some studios have been known to give customers a 4K digital copy with a standard Blu-Ray purchase).

With that said, there isn't much to talk about aside from the film itself (which I've already done above) or the quality of the Blu-Ray disc. For the latter, I must say this is a topnotch Blu-Ray release. I viewed it on a PS5, and I was very impressed with the picture quality. Things like the water surface or droplets splashing off the rowers' oars are crystal clear. The format also complements the stunning cinematography of the film.

I'm honestly baffled as to why there are no extras included here. It's a great movie, which is finely directed by Clooney, and the historical setting and triumphant nature seem fertile ground for featurettes. (And I'm sure there's a wealth of B-Roll footage that was filmed along the way). I suppose, given its modest genre and release, it's unlikely we'll get a re-release with bonus features down the road, so it's a shame that this release is most likely all we're going to get.

If you enjoyed the movie or intended on getting around to seeing it but haven't had the chance yet, picking up the Blu-Ray disc release will still be a worthwhile purchase. But if you typically get disc releases hoping for those extra features and the highest quality picture possible, you may be better off snagging the 4K digital copy from your favorite digital retailer and save the shelf space.

- John DiBiase (reviewed: 6/25/24)

 

Parental Guide: Content Summary


. Sex/Nudity: Al's wife finds him sitting outside on their front porch looking at a lake in the middle of the night. To get him to come inside, she says "Maybe youíll also like the view in here" as she walks back in their house and drops her slip in the doorway behind her (we don't see her after that); A girl asks one of the rowing team members if he'd like to take her somewhere to show her how he can have the strength to row like he does; Joe and Joyce go to her room and kiss (with perhaps further, more intimate intentions) but are caught and he leaves out the window; We see Joe lying in bed staring at the ceiling. We then see Joyce appear in the frame and lie beside him (they're both clothed and we don't see them doing anything).
. Vulgarity/Language: 7 "S" words, 2 "g*dd*mn," 2 "J-sus," 5 "h*ll," 1 "*ssh*le," 1 "G-d," 1 "a" word
. Alcohol/Drugs: There is some drinking at parties and meals.
. Blood/Gore: We briefly see some raw blistered skin on Joe's palm.
. Violence: None. (Maybe just some shoving between a couple team members.)

 

Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.

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