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The Push

Movie review by
Brian Costello, Common Sense Media
The Push Movie Poster Image
Inspirational sports docu has some cursing.
  • NR
  • 2018
  • 89 minutes

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

Positive Messages

Willpower and a positive mental attitude can overcome adversity. Find inner strength to face life's challenges. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

After a snowmobiling accident results in a paralyzing spinal cord injury, Grant Korgan, determined to walk again without any assistance, undergoes hours of intense physical training. He becomes the first adaptive athlete to reach the South Pole by traveling across Antarctica.

Violence

The snowmobiling accident that resulted in Grant Korgan's spinal cord injury, and the aftermath, is shown. 

Sex
Language

"F--kin'" used a few times. "Badass." 

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Push is a 2018 documentary about the first adaptive athlete to reach the South Pole by traveling across Antarctica. The snowmobiling accident that left Grant Korgan paralyzed from the waist down, as well as the immediate aftermath, is shown, as the jump Korgan was attempting was being filmed by his friends. "F--kin'" used a few times. Overall, the documentary uses Korgan's story to convey the importance of positivity and determination in facing challenges great and small. The movie doesn't sugarcoat the challenges Korgan faced in terms of the hours of physical training he underwent in order to walk again unassisted. The movie also doesn't shy away from the many difficulties Korgan and his guides faced when preparing for and undertaking the hundred-mile journey across Antarctica. 

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What's the story?

Growing up in Lake Tahoe, Grant Korgan had a love of mountain action sports from an early age. Even after graduating from college and working in a nanotechnology lab, Korgan loved going on adventures with his friends and his wife. This changed when Korgan, attempting a difficult snowmobile jump, lost control of his snowmobile when it landed, resulting in a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down. While in recovery and trying to make sense of what happened, Korgan had an epiphany -- he could get sucked into depression and negativity, or find any sign of hope and positivity, latch onto that, and do everything in his power to one day walk again unassisted. While working through hours of grueling physical therapy, Korgan is given an incredible opportunity: the chance to be the first adaptive athlete to reach the South Pole by pushing himself one hundred miles across Antarctica. With a new goal and renewed sense of purpose, Korgan, with the help of two experienced guides, begins training his body and mind for the difficult journey ahead. As the journey across Antarctica begins, Korgan and the two guides fight through the merciless cold, the slog of pushing through ice and snow that isn't as cooperative as they had hoped, and the constant fear of frostbite. But Korgan remains undeterred, revealing what's possible in life for anyone if they're willing to focus on the positive and are willing to put in the hard work required to achieve any difficult goal. 

Is it any good?

While not exactly saying anything new in the realm of inspirational sports documentaries, The Push nonetheless conveys messages worth repeating. These messages of positivity, determination, and finding one's purpose in life seem perfectly suited to Grant Korgan, the subject of the documentary, as well as its director. In the aftermath of a spinal cord injury from a snowmobiling accident that left him paralyzed from the waist down, Korgan, who up to that point had been an outdoor and mountain sports enthusiast and lover of life, speaks frankly of the struggles in finding the tiniest rays of hope in the midst of this despair and hanging onto them. His determination and positivity opens up the opportunity of a lifetime -- to be the first adaptive athlete to push his way across Antarctica to reach the South Pole -- and the details and struggle of this goal aren't sugarcoated. 

The Push is one of those documentaries where the filmmakers believe a constant "rousing" soundtrack needs to be playing nonstop in the background in case the actual message itself isn't enough to evoke inspirational feelings in the viewer. That said, the sincerity of the documentary is undeniable, and the story itself makes it stand out from movies exploring similar ideas and themes. The positive messages in this movie are worthy of discussion among families, especially at a time when such straightforward and somewhat spiritual ideas are overshadowed by the screaming narcissists of social media, reality television, and so-called "infotainment." 

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about inspirational documentaries about athletes. What are some of the positive messages this documentary conveys? How does this compare to other inspirational documentaries centered on athletes overcoming adversity? 

  • How does the movie combine interviews with home movie footage to give the audience a sense of what happened over the course of the documentary? 

  • How is music used in the documentary to heighten action, emotion, and the story? 

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