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Parents' Guide to

127 Hours

By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

True story of trapped hiker is intense, powerful, gruesome.

Movie R 2010 94 minutes
127 Hours Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 18 parent reviews

age 14+

"127 Hours" - Parental and Artistic Review.

Sexual Content: Before succumbing to the stone, as it were, Aron encounters two pretty women and promises them an experience that's "the best you can have with your clothes on; but it's better with your clothes off." He then shows them the way to a hidden pool, where they all swim. Aron takes off his shirt and one of the girls strips down to her underwear. Aron records the experience on his video camera, and later, when he's trapped, he replays the images, pausing for a lingering look at exposed cleavage. He moves his hand toward his crotch before he utters a frustrated "no!" Aron also has brief flashbacks to an experience he had, perhaps in college, when he and loads of other men and women in a van stripped down to their skivvies (in the jumble, some of the women appear to be topless) and then dove into a freezing lake. Later we see Aron and one of the girls lying together, both apparently naked underneath some blankets. She runs her fingers over Aron's chest and asks him what's the key to letting her in. Then she reaches down, under the blanket and past Aron's waist, and exclaims that she just found it. 5.5 out of 10. Violent/Gory Content: It's been reported that Aron's amputation sequence has made moviegoers faint or vomit. It's a three-minute montage, and it is indeed brutal. Aron breaks both bones in his forearm, then gets at gouging through the skin and muscle surrounding them with a painfully dull blade. It's bloody, gory work. We see his face and hands streaked with blood, and watch as he cuts through a spaghetti-like bit of nerve running through the core of his arm. Because the film is so tightly focused on just this one man and his arm, you find that you become extremely empathetic to the horror Aron is going through. You feel his pain—almost literally—far more than you do while watching a run-of-the-mill horror flick. But for all its brutality, those three minutes of screen time pale in comparison to the hour Aron spent actually performing this life-or-death surgery. A few other scenes to note: When the boulder first crashes down on Aron's arm, we don't see the impact, exactly, but we do see a smear of blood against the wall and notice his thumb grotesquely sticking out of the paper-thin space between rock and wall (The thumb later turns a sickly gray). When Aron decides to cut off his arm, he finds that his knife blade—which he's been using to chip away at the rock—is so dull it won't penetrate his skin. So his first amputation attempt results in only a handful of pinkish-red scratches. He resorts to using the "weapon" as a blunt dagger, stabbing it down hard into his flesh. Dark blood wells from the wound, and the camera takes us underneath the skin, too, showing the knife touch bone. In a bit of foreshadowing, Aron takes a tumble on his mountain bike—an accident that might've given other riders a bit of pause, but Aron simply smiles and takes a picture of himself lying in the dirt. 6.9 out of 10. Profanity: Around 17 "f" words (including 1 in a song) and 5 "s" words. We also hear at least 2 uses of "piss," 2 "hells," 1 "crap" and 1 "damn." Religious exclamations include at least: 2 uses of "Oh, my God" and 1 use each of "Jesus," "God" and "Swear to God." 6.3 out of 10. Substance Use: Aron's refrigerator is stocked with beer, and he drinks wine and beer in both flashbacks and feverish fantasy. Girls invite him to stop by a party to have a beer. 5.9 out of 10. Conclusion: "127 Hours" is one of Danny Boyle's masterpieces. It's an accurate depiction of what hiker Aron Ralston had to go through. It has fantastic performances and a mostly decent script. If you have the stomach for the gore, you won't go wrong with this film. This film rates as a 7.3 out of 10.
2 people found this helpful.
age 17+

Focuses on the individual story and not much else...

This film is beautifully shot. A lovely piece of cinematic achievement, a psychological drama that makes action out of the minutia needed to survive. Franco's portrayal expresses his claustrophobia and his anxiety well. The triumph of the individual over nature is portrayed with a lot of sentimental gusto but obscures the critical questions concerning how do we fit into the larger natural world.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (18 ):
Kids say (72 ):

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.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: November 5, 2010
  • On DVD or streaming: March 1, 2011
  • Cast: Amber Tamblyn , James Franco , Kate Mara
  • Director: Danny Boyle
  • Inclusion Information: Female actors
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • Genre: Drama
  • Run time: 94 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: language and some disturbing violent content/bloody images
  • Last updated: December 9, 2022

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