The Boys in the Boat (2023): David’s Review

boys in the boat review

Editorial Credit: MGM Studios

Hollywood continues to capture audiences with stories of unlikely victors and the challenge of defying odds. The magic of these tales lies in their ability to resonate with the audience’s innate desire for communal triumph and personal transcendence.

Sporting narratives, particularly, embody a powerful form of storytelling where characters confront adversity, much to the delight and inspiration of viewers.

These films often depict:

  • Underdog Protagonists: Characters starting from positions of disadvantage or with little to no recognition.
  • Formidable Obstacles: Significant challenges or adversaries that protagonists must face.
  • Defiance of Expectations: The journey of surpassing limitations and the anticipation of an uncertain outcome.

Some iconic films generate universal appeal by striking a deep emotional chord, such as:

  • Rocky (1976): A testament to resilience adjacent the glamorous boxing world.
  • The Karate Kid (1984): Martial arts meets personal growth and mentorship.
  • Miracle (2004): A historical ice hockey win that unified a nation.

The trend continues with Amazon MGM Studios alongside George Clooney navigating a new course with “The Boys in the Boat.”

Here, audiences are taken back to the momentous era of 1936, telescoping into the lives of collegiate oarsmen who rowed not just for victory, but for dignity during the harshest of times.

Will this film steer clear from the predictable current and clinch a spot in the hearts of sports drama enthusiasts, remains an engaging narrative to follow.


In a classic depiction of the underdog story, sports dramas have a unique way of resonating with audiences through their warm embrace of the “come from behind” narrative.

Human nature seems to revel in witnessing the proverbial little guy triumph over seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Movies about overcoming adversity have the beckoning call that stirs the spirit, compelling viewers to root for the protagonist with heartfelt enthusiasm.

Noteworthy Underdog Films:

  • Rudy
  • Remember the Titans
  • Rocky IV
  • The Karate Kid

These films share the universal theme of victory against the odds, though they tread a well-worn path of struggle, setback, and resolution.

Often, it’s the strength of the characters and craftsmanship in storytelling that revitalize these familiar journeys, sparking emotional inspiration.

The Boys in the Boat emerged as a fresh entrant in the sports drama genre in late 2023.

Directed by George Clooney, the film steps back into the 1930s to follow a collegiate rowing team’s arduous quest for Olympic gold in Berlin.

Clooney’s experience in directing multifaceted works shines through in his stewardship of this heartfelt venture.

Directed by:
George Clooney

Positive Aspects:

  • Authentic homage to classic sports dramas
  • Respectful handling of historical sources
  • Dynamic, thrilling rowing sequences
  • Humanizing moments of levity among the cast


  • Familiar story progressions
  • Some degree of predictability

Despite the familiarity of the narrative, The Boys in the Boat manages to stir the viewers’ emotions, exemplifying the true essence of team spirit and perseverance.

Balancing historical authenticity with dramatic flair, the film achieves a poignant yet entertaining portrayal of guts and glory.

Praise for “The Boys in the Boat”:

  • Respects the integrity of the true story
  • Provides wholesome, enduring entertainment
  • Leaves an inspiring mark as a ‘feel good’ film

Contributing to the film’s immersion are meticulous set designs and period-accurate costumes. The attention to detail serves to convincingly transport audiences to the era of the 1930s, enhancing the film’s historical credibility.

Standout Production Features:

Production DesignAuthentic sets and locations
Costume DesignPeriod-accurate attire
Boat Racing CinematographyExciting, dynamic paddling sequences

Though it may not redefine the sports drama category, The Boys in the Boat finds its stride by invoking a sense of camaraderie and determination.

Its storytelling prowess captivates and motivates, asserting that even in the face of obstacles, unity and hard work can pave the way to triumph.

In doing so, Clooney proves that a well-crafted underdog tale retains the power to move and entertain, a testament to the enduring allure of these narratives.


“The Boys in the Boat” presents an enriching story of endurance and companionship with its portrayal of Joe Rantz and his fellow rowers.

George Clooney’s adept direction brings out an inspiring narrative of the Washington Huskies team and their journey to Olympic glory in 1936.

Despite a recognizable format seen in many sports dramas, the film stands out through its heartfelt execution and the collective strength shown by the characters.

Key Highlights:

  • Direction: Clooney’s handling of the film adds depth to what could otherwise have been a predictable sports story.
  • Emotional Resonance: The storyline is a modern take on a classic tale of overcoming adversities, packed with motivation and devoid of unnecessary controversy.
  • Visual and Aural Presentation: Impressive cinematography and a compelling soundtrack elevate the film’s overall impact.
  • Cast Performance: A strong ensemble brings authenticity to their roles, making the story believable and engaging.

This cinematic piece doesn’t attempt to revolutionize the genre but stays true to the core of what makes an underdog story worth watching.

It’s a testament to the human spirit’s ability to surpass expectations and the power of unity in the face of challenges.

Viewers looking for an escape from the often divisive and grim reality will find solace in this film’s message and delivery.

In essence, the emotional backbone of the movie aligns with the positive reminder that some battles are worth the effort and commitment.

While there’s always room for improvement, “The Boys in the Boat” sails smoothly into the hearts of viewers, proving that sometimes, a simple yet compelling tale is all it takes to inspire.

Whether you’re in the mood to cheer for the underdogs or just searching for a quality movie experience, this film is likely to resonate.

It’s a safe pick for those preferring a narrative that inspires without overwhelming, and it garners a strong vote for viewing—be it as a new favorite or an agreeable pick for a night in.

The film reminds us that sometimes, making the extraordinary achievable is simply a matter of pulling together and moving forward, stroke by stroke.