The Finest Hours

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
The Finest Hours Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Death-defying rescue comes alive in intense drama.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 117 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

Trust yourself and your instincts, and you'll know the correct course of action. Also, when duty calls, you must rise to the occasion. Courage and integrity are additional themes. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ray Sybert puts his crew's lives above all else, thinking of creative ways to get them out of the disaster they find themselves in. Bernie Webber is trustworthy, honest, and willing to put his life on the line to save others.


Frequent danger/peril. Boats break apart upon hitting rough waves. A man is killed trying to go from a large ship to a smaller rescue boat. An extended scene shows a ship attempting to cross a sandbar in the middle of an historic storm.


A kiss. 


Infrequent swearing includes "jackass," "screw," and "hell."


Few product mentions. A Coors sign is visible. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Social drinking by adults.

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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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byQuietDan January 31, 2016

Bernie is Odysseus, struggling against all odds to return to Miriam, his Penelope.

A lot of reviewers are pooh-poohing the Miriam/Bernie romance, and yet it is central to the story in my opinion. One of the few differences between Bernie'... Continue reading
Adult Written byChris W. October 12, 2017

True Heroism

The Finest hours provides a true-life drama set in 1950's New England. The efforts of a small Coast Guard crew to save those aboard a sinking cargo ship is... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byVenusFlyTrap May 26, 2020

Amazing and Suspenseful

This was an incredible movie. It is considered to be one of the or the most amazing and incredible boat rescue in history (True Fact). I loved it so much. if yo... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byilovemoviesandtv March 23, 2016

A bit boring, but worth the watch.

The movie contained some great water scenes and action sequences. However, some of the scenes were really boring for children. Their accent also got a little an... Continue reading

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?

  • How do the characters demonstrate courage and integrity? Why are these important character strengths?

Movie details

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