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Lisa M. Hendey reviews the upcoming film, an inspirational true story that will make a great holiday season outing for families with teens.

Opening in theaters nationwide, the new George Clooney-directed film The Boys in the Boat retells a story from the past to teach timeless lessons for new generations. Far more than a sports story, The Boys in the Boat is an epic retelling of an important moment in our nation’s history. Against all odds, a band of societal underdogs captures the hearts and minds of their community, their nation, and ultimately the free world.  


The Boys in the Boat is a sports drama based on the #1 New York Times bestselling non-fiction book written by Daniel James Brown. The film, directed by George Clooney, is about the 1936 University of Washington rowing team that competed for gold at the Summer Olympics in Berlin. This inspirational true story follows a group of underdogs at the height of the Great Depression as they are thrust into the spotlight and take on elite rivals from around the world. (Source: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.) 


Official Trailer: 



Early in the film, we meet Joe Rantz (Callum Turner), living in his ramshackle car in a shantytown. Despite having been abandoned by his father following the death of his mother, Joe dreams of seeking an education. But the financial realities of tuition bills threaten his goals. In being barely able to feed himself, he is like so many struggling around him. When encouraged by a friend to try out for the University of Washington’s rowing team, Joe is finally convinced when he learns that a spot on the team comes with room and board. 

Scores of young men share Joe’s hopes and line up to try out for Coach Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton) and Assistant Coach Tom Bolles (James Wolk). Ultimately, against the odds and by the sheer force of his will, Joe is among the nine who make the team. Joe and his teammates, mostly novice rowers, go on to defy all the hardships stacked against them and achieve international recognition.  




George Clooney, making the most of a screenplay by Mark L. Smith, assembles a talented cast who bring that miraculous 1936 season to life. Amidst athletic heroics, we are invited to consider how striving against seemingly insurmountable odds can lift the spirits of so many and even mend broken relationships.  

Although times have changed, our young people today are growing up in a world fraught with challenges. Seeing The Boys in the Boat together and discussing how Joe and his teammates bonded to survive and thrive could be a great holiday season outing for families with older children. Rated PG-13 for language and smoking, this film is full of teachable moments that parents can share with the teens in their lives. 

George Clooney's film offers an important reminder that brotherhood and sisterhood coupled with motivation, hard work, and faith in our mission can fuel dreams and help us accomplish the impossible. The movie opens in theaters December 25, 2023.

For a little extra fun, check out our friend Sr. Nancy Usselmann's video of her meeting with director George Clooney at the film's premiere.




Copyright 2023 Lisa M. Hendey
Images: copyright 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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