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The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

“The Boys in the Boat”: A Motivational Story

The Boys in the Boat: A Motivational Story
MGM Studios

“The Boys in the Boat,” directed by George Clooney, follows the true story of the University of Washington (UW) Men’s Rowing team qualifying for the 1936 Olympics. It is a captivating, thrilling and inspiring movie based on Daniel James Brown’s original novel. 

I was on the edge of my seat throughout the movie, despite knowing very little about the plot. The story follows Joe Rantz, played by Callum Turner, who, in need of money for classes, decides to try out for UW’s JV Rowing Team. In the midst of the Great Depression, many boys went into these tryouts hoping to receive a paying job, without realizing the skill and determination required to make the team.

The only flaws I recognized during the movie were the mildly confusing timeline and unnecessary importance of Rantz’s love life. As the story advances, Rantz and Joyce Simdars fall more and more in love; however, I don’t think it was an important aspect to the story. The scenes that show Simdars listening in on Rantz’s races were a great addition to the suspense of the race, but her appearance early on felt random and unneeded. They went from flirting with one another to instantly falling in love and took over screen time that was not well deserved. The movie would have been better if their relationship played a smaller role.

The movie sets up the scenes in an oddly fast timeline, making it seem as though the boys went from trying out for the team to making it within days, before immediately outracing the varsity team. While this is common when condensing books into movies, I believe Clooney could have done a better job with the fast-moving timeline.

Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed was the portrayal of sportsmanship from wealthier American colleges when the movie showed how they helped UW advance to the Olympics. Even through minor conflict, the team persevered, making the movie’s conclusion inspirational and uplifting. Everyone coming together, working hard and finding a way to make things work was impressive along with the rowing itself.

However, throughout the movie, I was consistently waiting for some major conflict which might truly show their dedication, but there was never any hardship, which I found disappointing. Because the movie is based on a true story, adding fictional scenes is very difficult to do, so I understand the level of difficulty it would have been to fully unpack the same scenes and ideas of the book. However, I believe Clooney could have dramatized the story a little bit more to complete the level of suspense. 

The addition of Nazi portrayals, including an appearance by Adolf Hitler, was a very important recognition of the times the movie was set in. Beating Germany in front of Hitler in a major race was really important for UW and added an ironic aspect to Nazi Germany. This kept the movie fairly light-hearted and inspirational.

Although I recognize the minor flaws in the movie, I do believe that the amazing inspirational parts of the movie overruled and made it a great movie to see. As UW athletics recognition occurs today, I encourage many Huskies fans to find out more about the history of UW successes by watching this movie. I found this story to be both educational and entertaining.

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