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The Scroll

The Student News Site of Fargo North High School

The Scroll

The Scroll

The Boys in the Boat: The Perfect Light-hearted Watch

The Boys in the Boat: The Perfect Light-hearted Watch

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to the theaters to see “The Boys in the Boat,” based on the book of the same name by Daniel James Brown. And to be honest, I wasn’t expecting myself to enjoy the movie. But I left the theater pleasantly surprised.
“The Boys in the Boat,” directed by George Clooney, follows the story of the junior rowing team at the University of Washington as they attempt to make it to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. While each of the nine members originally joined the team just to make some money, they soon realized they had the potential to beat all the other richer, more experienced teams. It’s a classic underdog story with historical relevance, as the movie (and thus, the original book) was based on a true story. The men’s nine-rowing event in the 1936 Olympics was, in fact, won by a working-class, relatively unheard-of team from the U.S.
First of all, it’s important to recognize that the movie is, well, a movie. There have been discussions criticizing the movie’s accuracy, claiming that it was compressed heavily to fit everything into one movie. For example, the rowing team’s journey to the Olympics occurred over a lengthy three years, yet the movie showcases the team’s journey in one year, 1936. And while I can see that bothering those who know the true story, for people like me, who knew absolutely nothing about rowing going into the movie, the historical inaccuracies aren’t much of a bother.
One great part of this movie is the cinematography, especially during the actual rowing scenes. I never thought I’d feel anxious watching a rowing event, but the movie manages to build a lot of suspense during these scenes, particularly due to the camerawork. The way the camera frantically shifts back and forth between overhead shots, close-ups of the American team’s faces, and the oars shifting against the side of the boat builds a tense, ‘edge-of-your-seat’ atmosphere for the audience. The rowing races are by far the best part of the movie.
For the most part, “The Boys in the Boat” also delivers in terms of characters. The main character Joe Rantz, played by Callum Turner, is an interesting enough lead who the audience can’t help but sympathize with. The movie gives an accurate depiction of the Great Depression and what it was like for many young people seeking jobs. Joe Rantz is enrolled in college and is struggling to find a job to finance his education, so he tries out for the rowing team. He was also abandoned by his father at a very young age, which explains his strong endurance. Other notable characters include the team’s coach Al Ulbrickson, played by Joel Edgeton, and Don Hume, played by Jack Mulhern, an introverted, quiet boy who’s the ‘bow’ (position one) of the team. Don gets his own mini-storyline in the middle of the movie where he has to overcome his stage fright, and his role at the Olympics in Berlin is vital as well, as he falls ill right before the big race. I’m glad that another character other than Joe had some extra screen time, yet I also feel that’s my biggest problem with the movie.
Besides Joe, Coach Ulbrikson, and Don, we barely know anything about the other boys on the team. I honestly couldn’t remember any of the other boys’ names due to how unexplored they felt as characters. Of course, they’re there during the races and are often in scenes with each other, but beyond that, we know very little about them. This movie is two hours long; some of the slow storytelling could have been replaced with more scenes about the other characters.
I’ve also heard some criticizing the story itself. It’s a very typical underdog story, filled with many sport-movie cliches. If you’ve seen a lot of sports movies, you may feel slightly bored simply because this movie doesn’t feel extremely unique. The only truly unique thing about this movie is the fact that it focuses on rowing, a relatively niche sport, especially in the U.S. Although, is this really a bad thing? It may have a pretty cookie-cutter storyline, but sometimes, it’s a relief to watch a simple-hearted, motivating story about a team of underdogs rising from adversity and making it to the top.
I can understand leaving the theater and feeling the movie was uninspired, but for me, it was the perfect relaxing movie to watch after a stressful first semester. Overall, “The Boys in the Boat” may not be the best movie to watch if you’re looking for a deep, complex story with detailed characters, but it’s a great feel-good story that’s worth a watch if you want something easier to digest. I’d give it 4/5 spartan heads.

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About the Contributor
Caleb Roth
Caleb Roth, Writer
Hi, my name is Caleb Roth and I'm currently a senior. This is my first year in Journalism, and I don't have much experience. But I'm really looking forward to learning and writing as much as I can for our newspaper. In my free time, I enjoy playing piano/drums, playing video games, and hanging out with my golden retriever, Forest.
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