127 Hours

True story of trapped hiker is intense, powerful, gruesome.
  • Review Date: October 27, 2010
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 94 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The movie has strong messages about triumphing over the odds and facing challenges with courage. Aron works hard to solve his problem, keeping his head and trying not to panic or give up.

Positive role models

The movie presents Aron as a brave survivor and a hero, someone who faced incredible odds and won. He's not flawless; he swears a lot, and flashbacks show him in sexual situations and drinking, plus he probably could have avoided his situation entirely if he had been more responsible. But this event was a life-changer, and it clearly woke him up. During part of the movie, he engages in extreme survival techniques that may disturb some viewers, such as drinking urine.


Intense, gruesome self-inflicted violence; some reports say that audience members have passed out as a result of watching it. In the worst of it, Aron tries to saw through his own arm, which requires him to slice through flesh (blood is shown), snap the bone, and sever what looks like a nerve; the movie uses blasts of shrieking noise on the soundtrack to illustrate the pain. Close-ups and X-ray shots of the arm are seen. In an earlier, more carefree moment, Aron wipes out on his bike.


Flashbacks show Aron with a former girlfriend. They're seen under a blanket, possibly naked, presumably after sex. There's innuendo and sex talk. A carload of teens performs a "freeze-out," i.e. taking off all their clothes and rolling down the windows of a moving car on a cold night (very little actual nudity is shown). Aron goes swimming with two pretty girls; he later watches his video of the swim, with lust/desire implied.


Many uses of "f--k" and "s--t," plus "crap," "oh my God," and more.


Gatorade makes a prominent appearance, and when his water runs low, Aron fantasizes about cold drinks -- and viewers see actual TV ads for Sunkist, Coke, and Perrier. Mountain Dew and Scooby-Doo are also mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Twenty-something characters are seen drinking beer at a party in an imagined flashback, and Aron drinks wine with his girlfriend (in a real flashback). No one is seen over-indulging.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this intense drama from the director of Slumdog Millionaire is based on a true story about a hiker trapped in the bottom of a canyon for more than five days, his arm pinned between a boulder and the canyon wall. Although there's some very gruesome self-inflicted violence as the main character (who's played by James Franco) attempts to free himself -- some audience members reportedly passed out at preview screenings -- ultimately 127 Hours is a positive, life-affirming story about overcoming incredible odds. Those who have the stomach for the bloody parts can also expect some heavy language (not all that surprising, considering the movie's circumstances), and flashback scenes with drinking and sexual situations. There are also notable beverage product placements (Gatorade, Coke, Perrier, etc.) as the main character gets thirsty and dreams of something to drink.

What's the story?

One weekend, Aron Ralston (James Franco) decides to go hiking and climbing by himself. He haphazardly packs his backpack with water and supplies and heads out. He spends some time with two girls (Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara), who are lost and shows them an underground lake. They part ways, and a little later, Aron slips and falls into a canyon. A boulder lands on top of his arm, pinning and trapping him. For five days, Aron tries to escape, rations his food and water, tries to keep warm, and passes the time by remembering and imagining his friends and family. He eventually decides that, to escape, he needs to make a painful sacrifice.

Is it any good?


Franco gives a powerhouse performance in the one-man centerpiece role, humanizing the movie and providing its emotional core. Directed by Danny Boyle (127 HOURS is his first movie afte the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire) the movie is very slick and stylish, including shots from inside a water bottle and X-ray shots of Aron's arm, as well as a large collection of fantasy sequences and flashbacks and clever, effective cinematography and editing.

You could argue that this high style is gratuitous, but on the other hand, it may be necessary to help the very intense material go down a little smoother; it gives viewers occasional rest breaks and moments of hope. It's interesting to compare 127 Hours to another one-man "trapped" movie, the almost totally stripped-down Buried. Both movies are powerful in their own ways. But 127 Hours will no doubt resonate more with audiences, given its ultimately hopeful message and themes of bravery and heroism.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's gory parts. Were they absolutely necessary to tell the story? How did seeing those scenes make you feel? Could you feel the pain the character was going through? How was this accomplished?

  • Did Aron do everything possible to free himself? What could he have done differently? What would you have done differently?

  • Are movies based on real lives/true stories more interesting than those that are pure fiction?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 5, 2010
DVD release date:March 1, 2011
Cast:Amber Tamblyn, James Franco, Kate Mara
Director:Danny Boyle
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Run time:94 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written byJnic April 22, 2011
age 17+

One of the Best Movies I've Ever Seen

This movie was incredible and is definitely worth watching. Phenomenal acting and directing help adapt this powerful story into a deeply moving and inspirational film. I had to turn my face away a couple times during the amputation scene (though it is a vital part of the movie, it can be easily avoided without taking away from the overall film) Even if viewers don't feel up to sitting through the graphic (though short) amputation scene, I would definitely recommend this film to anyone. 127 Hours is an experience that leaves a lasting impression on its viewers.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 14 years old Written byNewYorkTimes April 19, 2011
age 12+

Best of the Year

One of the best movies of the year. SPOILER: The only bad parts are when he swears and when he cuts his arm off which was a very minoir scene.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 11 years old April 7, 2011
age 15+

A little gory.

It's a really intresting movie. There are swears and one too violent scene. Although, the rest is great. The movie has a great message and great acting by Franco.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Great messages


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