The Boys in the Boat movie poster
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The Boys in the Boat
The Boys in the Boat movie poster

The Boys in the Boat Movie Review

Boys. In a boat. Rowing. Competing against the Ivy League. And fucking Nazis. That’s the plot for The Boys in the Boat, a generic sports drama that doesn’t work as the awards contender it clearly wants to be but thankfully serves as a satisfying crowd pleaser.

From director George Clooney, The Boys in the Boat follows the University of Washington JV crew team as they rose to prominence in 1936 in advance of the German Olympics. Based on a book which is apparently quite good, the movie is a straightforward tale of an underdog group of poor kids who battle the odds to achieve greatness.

There’s not a single moment of The Boys in the Boat that isn’t utterly predictable (even if you haven’t read the book, like I haven’t), but that’s OK. I’m a sucker for underdog sports dramas. Clooney checks all the boxes: likable protagonists (headlined by Callum Turner), a tough-but-motivating coach (Joel Edgerton), come-from-behind victories, and an attractive love interest (hello, Hadley Robinson!). As a bonus, the film is about the Washington Huskies–not my alma mater, but I’m a Seattleite so close enough.

It’s been over a decade since Clooney has directed anything worthwhile, so The Boys in the Boat is a refreshing change of course. There’s nothing exceptional on display here, nor will this go down as one of the great sports dramas. Even still, Clooney delivers some semi-suspenseful race sequences–and everything in between is entertaining enough.

The Boys in the Boat is about as basic as its title, but if you’re a fan of underdog sports movies, you could do much worse. And how many sports movies have Adolf fucking Hitler in them?

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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