A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this movie has some strong sailor language and some sexual references that can get crude. Characters drink and smoke a great deal. For most parents, the primary concern will be the scariness and sadness of the movie. It is very intense and many characters are killed. Parents should be willing to give kids deniability ("I really want to see it but my parents won't let me!") if they sense that the kids do not want to go.
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What's the story?
In this man-against-nature thriller based on a true story, captain of the Andrea Gail, Billy Tyne (George Clooney), must prove to himself and to the owner of the boat that he can bring in a good load of fish. Tyne's crew includes Bobby (Mark Wahlberg), who must choose between his love for the sea and his girlfriend Christina (Diane Lane), and Scully (William Fichtner) and Murph (John C. Reilly), who don't get along with each other. The fishing expedition is a success, but on the way home the crew runs into a devastatingly powerful storm with 100 foot waves. But Tyne is determined to bring his catch, and his crew, home safely.
Is it any good?
The special effects and the action scenes are excellent, but this film fails in many ways. It's very hard to make a good book into a good movie, even a good book that seems inherently cinematic, as this one does, with all its swirling winds and crashing waves. The dialogue is corny, with lines like "This is where they separate the men from the boys." The storm doesn't happen until an hour and a half into the film, and each of the characters is trotted out to show one identifying characteristic. Wahlberg, Fichtner, Lane, and Reilly, four fine actors, are left more adrift by the script than their characters are by the storm, while the talents of other good actors are wasted. The book tells a sad story, but the film just feels maudlin, and the scenes on land following the storm go on too long. This is where we really need some insight and some good dialogue, and we just don't get it. And there is one scene, just before one character dies, where he speaks to a loved one and sees her in an apparition that even the producers of "Message in a Bottle" would have been embarrassed to try.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the way the characters evaluate their options and deal with the consequences of their decisions. After the first rescue, the Coast Guard is told that their superiors cannot order them to go to the second, because it is too hazardous. What went into their decision about how to respond? Captain Tyne had to decide whether to try to get home through the storm in time to save their catch or protect his men's lives while losing all their money. How did he decide?
For kids who love true stories
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