The Crash Reel

Movie review by
Kari Croop, Common Sense Media
The Crash Reel Movie Poster Image
Pro snowboarder's rise and fall is sobering and inspiring.
  • NR
  • 2014
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The film highlights the dangers of a sport that's pushing the limits of what's considered "safe" and raises thought-provoking questions about how much is too much. Friendship and family also emerge as major themes.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Kevin goes through his ups and downs, but ultimately proves to be an inspiring role model to aspiring athletes and others who have suffered brain injuries. The Pearce family also serves as a remarkable example of love and support.


Footage captures accidents and life-altering injuries, but there's minimal blood.


There's some unbleeped swearing ("f--k" and "s--t"), but it isn't constant.


Brand names are mentioned in the context of snowboarders' sponsorships and endorsement deals; some logos are visible during competition footage. Examples: Monster Energy Drink, MTV, Burton snowboards, Paul Mitchell hair products, Motorola, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some athletes are shown overindulging in one scene to celebrate a rider's 21st birthday, and there's talk of someone being "wasted" after a competition, but most point out they don't drink when they're training.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that even though The Crash Reel isn't completely issue free (there's some unbleeped swearing in the form of "f--k" and "s--t," and a few athletes are shown partying hard with alcohol), the film's thoughtful message is one that's well worth hearing for older kids -- especially those who might look up to extreme sports athletes like Kevin Pearce and his friends. Pearce's family is also a great example of unconditional love and support, tempered with common-sense concern for Kevin's well-being. Some brand names and corporate logos are present, but they're used as background in the context of sports sponsorships.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byRavenW October 18, 2020

More rehab than snowboarding.

This doco was engaging for my 11yo but the 9yo got bored. Makes you think about impulsivity, safety, what drives people to win. Themes of family sacrifice, frie... Continue reading

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

What's the story?

When championship snowboarder and Olympic hopeful Kevin Pearce suffered a traumatic brain injury during a training accident in 2009, his mind and his body were broken -- and his life as he knew it was forever changed. But in spite of multiple doctors' warnings, his dream of returning to the extreme world of competitive snowboarding refused to die. Blending jaw-dropping action footage and candid interviews, THE CRASH REEL documents Kevin's meteoric rise and dramatic fall, and ultimately centers on his family's fight to keep him alive.

Is it any good?

Even if you think you have zero interest in snowboarding and other extreme sports, this riveting documentary will quickly change your mind. The movie was created by two-time Academy Award nominated filmmaker Lucy Walker (Waste Land, The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom). It's memorable not just because of the arresting visuals of young athletes who seemingly defy gravity, flying more than 40 feet above the snow, but also because of the Pearce family's candidly emotional journey, which serves as a cautionary -- but ultimately hopeful -- tale of love and ambition.

The story is so well told, in fact, that some parents might get choked up watching Kevin and his family fight for his life. But The Crash Reel's balanced blend of action and thoughtful questioning could also get kids thinking about whether extremism in extreme sports -- or any pursuit -- is a positive trend.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the film's central question: How much is too much when it comes to extreme sports? Is bigger always better -- even if smaller is safer? Should spectacle be more important than safety if there are athletes who are willing to take the risk?

  • How does the Kevin we see before the accident compare to the Kevin we see after the accident? Was getting back on a snowboard smart, even though his doctors advised him against it? Why was he so determined to compete again? Was it all about winning -- or something more?

  • How important was Kevin's family to his recovery? Did it surprise you that some of his friends had negative things to say about the "new Kevin"?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love sports

Themes & Topics

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