127 Hours

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
127 Hours Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
True story of trapped hiker is intense, powerful, gruesome.
  • R
  • 2010
  • 94 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 71 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism

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.

What 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.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 and 13-year-old Written byBret Friend March 28, 2011

Excellent message to outdoor enthusiasts

This was a very intense movie that shows the victim overcome all odds to survive. There is 1 period that is very gory, but I thought it was necessary to displa... Continue reading
Adult Written bybatman12 January 10, 2020

Graphic yet really good

Despite the R rating there's really only one scene to be worried about which is the amputation scene. There's also a bit of profanity including f--k b... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old June 27, 2014

CSM Insight - 127 Hours (DVD)

What other families should know is that this is a disturbing true story which made people pass out in cinemas. The man gets his arm trapped and in the end ~spoi... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byAndrew M Thomas October 24, 2019

A very inspiring movie

Last scene is really graphic.

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love dramas

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