The Boys in the Boat Movie Review – Release date December 25, 2023

George Clooney inspires as a director. Here, more than ever. “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” “Up in the Air,” and “The Tender Bar” are a few of his films. Clooney’s in them, too, because he knows a good story when he sees one and obviously where he best fits. Now, he offers “The Boys in the Boat.” Will it be up for Best Picture? No. But is it worth watching? Without a doubt.

It’s a true story based on the book, “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.” Published by Penguin Books, the book became very popular for its theme and is still applauded. This 1936 story was written by Daniel James Brown and published in 2013. Outside of the way the characters never give up, what I really appreciated about this is that Clooney wasn’t afraid to show the kind of person that Adolf Hitler truly was when his team wasn’t doing its best… enough for him. He took a loss to mean the team didn’t want Germany to win and that it was a personal affront to him, not that another team was better. In case you weren’t aware, it was during these games that Hitler actually turned his back on Jessie Owens.


I think Clooney wanted to show how the common folks, blue-collar workers, and struggling student-athletes at a school they can barely afford to attend, in this case, it’s the University of Washington, can make a difference. The rowing team soon becomes all the main character (rower Joe Rantz, played by Callum Turner from “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”) can think about. He’s at school hoping to be an engineer, but that life is less exciting than being a significant part of a team. He walks around with holes in his shoes and gets free soup to eat, which he’s embarrassed about. However, when he tries out for the rowing team and makes it, he knows it comes with free room and board, tuition, and meals. It’ll get him the kind of attention that will likely mean, in this era of depression, he’ll never again have to worry about where his next meal is coming from.


Since he was deserted by his family like a sack of garbage, you’d think he would have a massive chip on his shoulder and not be helpful to others or kind, but it seemed to have revealed great character and presence of mind. Luckily, he has a committed coach in Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton) who knows talent when he sees it. He is chosen to be on the team, the junior team and their team goes to the Olympics ahead of the rest. It’s a considerable risk Coach Ulbrickson is taking, but he knows what these boys are capable of.


The script doesn’t delve into the other BOYS in the boat, mostly Rantz, but you can see they respect one another and are driven to show their coach they can be who he knew they could be… winners. Watching them row in sequence is fascinating because a guy with a mouthpiece is screaming from the front, leading them on, facing them, not the water. They’re known as the Coxswain and, in a way, steering and coordinating the energy that keeps the tempo and rhythm of the rowers moving together.


Do keep in mind who they’re rowing against and how this young college team defeating Germany was so crucial for the history books. I found that part so awful to consider yet so fascinating that Hitler lost as he should have, considering what he was doing behind everyone’s backs. The games never should have been played there. Sorry to get off on that rant.


Anyway, this is a non-fictional overcome-the-odds type of story for the family, one you’ll enjoy at home on cable. There’s no real reason to see this in the theater, but it’s beautifully shot by Martin Ruhe, who often works with Clooney. I’d add this to my Christmas list.

The Boys in the Boat

Directed by: George Clooney
Screenplay by: Mark L. Smith
*Based on: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

Starring: Callum Turner, Joel Edgerton

Rated: PG-13 (Language and Smoking)
Running time: 2h 4m
Genres:  History, Drama, Biography, Sports

Production Co: Smokehouse Pictures, MGM Studios, Spyglass Media GroupDistributed by: Amazon MGM Studios


Rating contributor: ShariK.Green tmc
I'm the Sr. Film Writer and Community Manager for I write, direct and produce short films with my production company, Good Stew Productions. Though it's difficult to answer this question when asked, I'd say my favorite movie is “The Big Chill.” I enjoy photography, poetry, and hiking and I adore animals, especially elephants. I live in Arizona and feel it's an outstanding and inspirational place to live.

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