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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to that The Finest Hours -- set in the 1950s and based on the U.S. Coast Guard's greatest small-boat rescue mission -- brings to life a sometimes-terrifying piece of history. Expect scenes of peril and frightening natural violence, with waves knocking characters (played by the likes of Ben Foster, Chris Pine, Eric Bana, Casey Affleck, and more) around like toys, bodies slamming against the decks of ships, suspenseful boat vs. ocean moments, and allusions to other accidents that claimed lives. But beyond the tension and danger, the movie is on the mild side; language isn't stronger than "jackass" and "hell," drinking is limited to some social imbibing by adults, and a chaste kiss is as steamy as it gets. It also offers heroic characters overcoming the odds and a superficial, though notable, meditation on life and death.
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What's the story?
Based on real-life events, THE FINEST HOURS chronicles what's considered the greatest small-boat rescue in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. In the winter of 1952, a massive storm rocks New England, ripping two oil tankers in half near Cape Cod. On the splintered half of the Pendleton, Ray Sybert (Casey Affeck) and other crew members toil ceaselessly to keep their half of the ship afloat as they wait for rescue. Meanwhile, Coast Guardsman Bernie Webber (Chris Pine) is on a boat with three others racing to save the Pendleton crew, but it's not clear whether they'll make it across a sandbar safely and reach the men before it's too late.
Is it any good?
This plays like a throwback film at first, portraying without irony or insight the sexism of its day; but once it hits the water, the scenes of peril and suspense manage to rescue it. Some of The Finest Hours' plot developments can be spotted entire oceans away, but a strong cast and great special effects -- which, like the memorable visuals of The Perfect Storm, reveal the monstrous power of the sea -- pull it from the brink of disaster.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how movies like The Finest Hours depict intense historical events. Is it easier or harder to watch disturbing scenes knowing they really happened? How much scary stuff can kids handle?
What's the appeal of movies based on real-life events? How important is historical accuracy in a movie like this? Why might filmmakers decide to change some facts? How can you find out more about what really happened?
- In theaters: January 29, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 24, 2016
- Cast: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Eric Bana
- Director: Craig Gillespie
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: History
- Character Strengths: Courage, Integrity
- Run time: 117 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of peril
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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