127 Hours Movie Poster Image

127 Hours

True story of trapped hiker is intense, powerful, gruesome.
Popular with kidsParents recommend
  • 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/Streaming 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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Adult Written byOneVeryLongUsername January 30, 2015

"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.
Adult Written byTenthfisch April 10, 2015

If your kids scare easily...

We thought we could just skip through the gross, inappropriate, or really intense parts. Unfortunately, I did not recall the weird Scooby-Doo hallucinations. These totally freaked my kids out.
Parent of a 15 and 17 year old Written byJohn Lang August 6, 2014

Deeply moving and inspiring

Really just one terrible scene that I could not watch. Other than that a deeply moving and inspirational movie. Children will be upset after this movie - no doubt. It is a dark movie.
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence