Father and child sit together smiling while looking at a smart phone.

Want more recommendations for your family?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter for entertainment inspiration

Parents' Guide to

A Most Beautiful Thing

By Tara McNamara, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 13+

Rowing docu offers powerful messages of teamwork, gratitude.

Movie NR 2020 95 minutes
A Most Beautiful Thing Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

There aren't any parent reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: Not yet rated
Kids say: Not yet rated

Based on rowing team captain Arshay Cooper's self-published memoir, this documentary is powerful and informative. Director Mary Mazzio -- herself a former Olympic rower -- takes viewers back to Chicago's West Side in the late 1990s. Through the Manley High School crew team's personal stories, we come to understand how kids in underserved areas grow up in both an emotional and physical war zone, where many join gangs as a form of survival but still expect to die before their 18th birthday, and where the people who are expected to protect them aren't always capable because of their own trauma. Mazzio uses statistics and medical/psychological data to show the effects of generational trauma: anxiety, depression, and trouble learning.

The Manley team's story took a twist when two young, self-centered White guys (one is described as "borderline racist," and the other admits he was culturally insensitive) realized rowing crews were pretty much exclusively White and got the notion to raise money to develop a rowing program with kids from a high school in an underserved area. They naively (and condescendingly) thought that they could train novices into gold medalists in one year and nab some college scholarships. That doesn't happen -- in fact, the team only lasted for a year. But what does happen is its own marvel, one that couldn't be seen without the passage of time. The 1998 Manley team is its own success story, and through Mazzio's storytelling, it's offered as proof that team sports can help break the cycle of poverty and violence, possibly steering kids away from potential trouble. The positive outcomes and messages in this film are many -- but when the crew team members put the lessons they learned into action to fulfill their goals and move their community forward, those lessons become outright inspiring.

Movie Details

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate