The Boys in the Boat – REVIEW

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The Boys in the Boat - George Clooney's latest film
BITB_14011_R (l-r.) Luke Slattery stars as Bobby Moch, Jack Mulhern as Don Hume, Wil Coban as Jim McMillin, Tom Varey as Johnny White, Callum Turner as Joe Rantz, Sam Strike as Roger Morris and Thomas Elms as Chuck Day in director George Clooney’s THE BOYS IN THE BOAT An Amazon MGM Studios film Photo credit: Laurie Sparham © 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The latest film from the ‘does-what-it-says-on-the-tin’ genre is The Boys in the Boat and is the true story of the 1936 US rowing team going for gold at the berlin Olympics. Unlike our own boat race which our Editor can never understand why Oxford & Cambridge get to the finals every year (‘You’re fired!’ – Ed) here the crew is comprised of nine students from disadvantaged backgrounds most notably Joe Rantz (Callum Turner) abandoned at 14 years of age by his father after his wife dies and, now homeless, Joe lives in derelict car on wasteland. But with his funds running out to pay for his education he’s has to find the money to complete his education. This is depression era America and there are few jobs but the rowing club will pay for those they recruit to the team. Cue the obligatory montage as hundreds of applicants sweat their way through the arduous recruitment process. Coach Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton) tells them “The average human body is not fit!’ Something our editor epitomizes after the Christmas break with a body fat percentage that he could now pass for a pork scratching (‘You’re definitely fired !’ – Ed).

But Joe gets a place on the team and what follows is an underdog story that sees obstacles put in the teams way that takes in illness, funding, elitism and cheating Nazis. Added to this is a love story between Joe and  childhood crush Joyce ( Hadley Robinson) who flirts  with him in a library and she is so remarkably loud voiced that it’s a wonder that no one tells them to ‘Get a room!’ .

Turner and Robinson are an endearing on screen couple as is Peter Guinness who plays George Pocock the man who builds and looks after their boat (or shell to use the correct term) and becomes something of a stable guiding father figure to Joe.

Rowing has always been perceived as a somewhat elite sport with a bizarre end of race custom for the team to dip their cox in the briny, a custom that had Prince Andrew wanting to become a patron to the sport thinking that they had misspelled Briony. The rowing scenes are well executed and thrillingly told even if the outcome is no surprise. The Boys in the Boat is  traditional old fashioned storytelling and there’s nothing wrong with that. Directed by George Clooney it is his usual proficiency at solid film making in an entertaining if unremarkable film

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Here’s The Boys in the Boat trailer….

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