“The Boys in the Boat”


Metacritic (6/10), Letterboxd (3/5), Imdb.com (6/10), TMDB.com (6/10)

When it comes to underdog stories, there are offerings that are decidedly inspirational and those that are riddled with clichés. As for the latest in this genre from director George Clooney, the film falls squarely in the latter category. Although capably made for the most part, this fact-based account about the 1936 US Olympic gold medal-winning eight-man rowing team is positively rife with shopworn predictable sports story tropes, nearly all of which can be handily spotted from a mile away. While the period piece production values and cinematography are generally solid, much of the rest of the picture is about as pedestrian as one can get, from the screenplay to the narrative to the performances. The release also features some unusual camera work and film editing, most of which adds nothing and comes across as more puzzling than anything else. What’s more, there are few meaningful tie-ins to the site of the 1936 Games – Berlin in Adolph Hitler’s Germany – an aspect of the story that serves as little more than a backdrop but carries few, if any, other connotations. To be honest, I expect more from a filmmaker like Clooney in terms of cinematic imagination and inventiveness, but those attributes are almost entirely lacking here. In short, “The Boys in the Boat” is fundamentally bland and unengaging – by no means a bad film but certainly a second-rate production that fails to get viewers particularly excited, enthused or inspired.