Score a win for the George Clooney-directed film “The Boys in the Boat,” which premiered Christmas Day.
Many in the audience I watched it with in Phoenix, Arizona, applauded at the end because the movie was so good. And I was one of them.
By contrast, Rotten Tomatoes’ critics scored it at 57 percent.
“The Boys in the Boat” has the same patriotic vibe as last year’s top domestic box office film “Top Gun: Maverick.”
It’s about a Depression-era eight-man crew team at the University of Washington that wins a spot in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Of course, that’s a few short years after Adolf Hitler came to power. In fact, the Führer watches in the film as the U.S. competes against Germany and other teams in the crew finals at the Games.
The main protagonist in “The Boys in the Boat” is Joe Rance (played by Callum Turner), who was abandoned by his father and stepmother at 14, but goes on to become a student at the University of Washington in Seattle.
Rance tries out for the crew team as a way to pay his tuition and get a roof over his head and food in his belly.
The trailer is below:
A secondary protagonist — the crew coach, Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton) — makes all the right decisions in the story that one would want a man of character to make.
“The Boys in the Boat” is based on the 2013 bestselling nonfiction book of the same name by Daniel James Brown.
Clooney told “PBS NewsHour” that he liked the story so much he tried unsuccessfully to option the movie rights for the book years ago.
When the opportunity came up again, he grabbed it.
“These are not easy films to get made anymore, because you can’t make them cheap,” Clooney said of the period piece.
Besides building the boats, it took five months of training just to get the actors ready for filming.
Further, “They’re not designed to be big hits. These don’t open like a Marvel film,” Clooney added. “So studios don’t really jump at these kind of things. So you gotta kinda con them into doing it, a little.”
Clooney told Deadline that a week before the movie was to begin shooting, MGM made him give his directing fee back.
“They were like, ‘the budget, you haven’t met the budget, so the only way you can do it is if you give your fee back,’ which I did,” he said.
“The Boys in the Boat” is the story of how nine working-class boys from the American West showed the meaning of true grit at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The book has been adapted into a film directed by George Clooney.@TheStephSy spoke to Clooney and author @DJamesBrown for more. pic.twitter.com/vDY8jI6abT
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) December 22, 2023
Asked what drew him to the story, Clooney said, “I like what this says about us. We remind ourselves, when you see this, we’re really good when we work together.”
Clooney comes from the political left, but “The Boys in the Boat” is unifying.
With everything that’s going on in the country, and around the world for that matter, Clooney and everyone involved in “The Boys in the Boat” have provided what art at its best can do: Inspire the better angels of our nature.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.