By Tara McNamara,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Teamwork, ingenuity shine in excellent, intense true story.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
A solution exists for every problem, but finding it may require creative thinking, trust, extensive collaboration, and a great deal of risk. Heroes are brave, and what makes them successful is having acquired practical knowledge. Clear themes of teamwork and perseverance.
Positive Role Models
Everyone depicted here is willing to sacrifice something for the sake of trying to save the boys, even knowing that the chances of success are slim. The adult coach trapped with the kids keeps them calm, teaching them mindfulness skills; the kids are grateful, kind, polite, and patient, even in the worst circumstances. More than 10,000 volunteers from all over the world help of their own volition, sometimes putting their own well-being in danger. Thai Navy Seals and regional governor care deeply, demonstrate a different kind of courage by accepting the responsibility of risk at the potential cost of their own reputations. Farmers agree to lose a year's worth of income to help.
Takes place in Thailand. Thai culture, settings, government, way of life, and spiritual beliefs are incorporated in a way that's relatable and respectful. Every Thai person is depicted positively; wherever conflict arises, the misgivings in trying to make positive choices in an impossible situation are made clear. People with diverse backgrounds come together from all over the world for a worthy purpose. While rescue was a team effort between Thai leaders and other countries, including U.S. and China, the people who ultimately conduct the daring rescue are all White men from countries like the U.K. and Australia.
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Violence & Scariness
Depicts the true story of a real-life event that puts the lives of 12 children and several adults in intense peril. Rocks fall on people. A blast throws a body across the space, leading to injury. Drowning occurs on camera. Blood from scrapes, cuts, and slamming into rocks.
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Language includes "ass," "bulls--t," "s--t," and "pain in the butt."
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Products & Purchases
Some logos on T-shirts.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
A couple of adult characters smoke in a tense situation. Kids are anesthetized with pills and shots, including ketamine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Thirteen Lives, directed by Ron Howard, recounts the true events of the against-all-odds rescue of a boys' soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018. Just as it was in real life, the peril is intense, so you'll probably want to let kids know ahead of watching that the boys survive. But one diver does perish, and his drowning is shown on camera. Like the 2021 documentary about the same events, The Rescue, this film depicts teamwork and striking bravery. Every person in the movie is portrayed as a hero or role model, working through communication barriers and cultural differences to come up with a solution. There are many positive takeaways, including the idea that pulling off the impossible comes from combining a range of knowledge and skills. Specifically, viewers are likely to gain an appreciation for geology and engineering. Expect to see a couple of adults smoking, and kids are given sedatives and ketamine through needles and pills without parental consent. Language isn't frequent but includes "s--t" and "ass."
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Based on 6 parent reviews
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Um. Please change the language rating to reflect the f words
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What's the Story?
In 2018, a Thai boys' soccer team and their coach were trapped in the Tham Luang cave network when unexpected rain flooded their exit. Concerned for their safety, the world turned its attention to the global rescue efforts with the hope that the team of uniquely qualified volunteers would be able to save the THIRTEEN LIVES, despite impossible circumstances.
Is It Any Good?
Superheroes may dominate kids' entertainment, but director Ron Howard superbly showcases real heroes who pull off an extraordinary feat to save lives. The plight of the Wild Boars boys' soccer team -- trapped deep in a cave with no feasible method of escape -- seems ripped straight from the comics, where only a superpowered caped crusader could save them. There's even a supernatural element: According to folklore, the spirit of the mythical Princess Jao Mae Nang Non guards the cave, her statue marking the entrance, and locals believe she had a hand in the surprise flash flood. Howard's retelling is more grounded than an Avengers movie but no less sensational -- and far more impactful. These heroes are authentically brave, powered by decades of acquired specific knowledge, calculated collaboration, and selflessness.
While the documentary The Rescue, released to critical accolades in 2021, covers the same remarkable events factually and thoroughly, Howard's well-crafted scripted version is a great choice for tweens and teens. He strikes the perfect balance throughout, keeping the musical score light (or sometimes nonexistent) in the tensest situations so as not to manipulate viewers' emotions. The actual events, failures, and disagreements are re-created with honesty and respect for all of the participants. Howard discounts no one: The contributions from the boys' parents, farmers, a Hindu priest, engineers, the Thai province's governor, and even the trapped children themselves are shown to help the rescue effort as much as the divers' efforts. And Howard does an excellent job of establishing cross-cultural understanding and relatability, showing a deep sensitivity for Thai beliefs and values. Thanks to all of that -- and the fact that the rescue subjects range in age from 11 to 16 -- viewers in the same age bracket will be able to connect to this amazing real-life story and will be better for it.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about collaboration. How does Thirteen Lives demonstrate that the rescue didn't just rely on the divers but also on the thousands of volunteers offering their skills? Why is teamwork an essential life skill?
Describe how bravery is demonstrated by each of the players. Put yourself in their shoes: Would you have made the same decision, if you didn't know the outcome? Why is courage an important character trait? Why do you think obstacles or difficulties are called "discourage"?
If you've seen The Rescue, how does Thirteen Lives differ? What's different about storytelling in a documentary versus in a dramatic film?
How are perseverance, integrity, self-control, humility, empathy, compassion, and gratitude demonstrated throughout the film? Could the rescue have been pulled off without these elements?
What makes someone a hero? What skills and knowledge do you have that could be used to help in an emergency?
- In theaters: July 29, 2022
- On DVD or streaming: August 5, 2022
- Cast: Colin Farrell, Viggo Mortensen, Joel Edgerton
- Director: Ron Howard
- Studio: United Artists Releasing
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Great Boy Role Models, History
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 142 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some strong language and unsettling images
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: December 13, 2022
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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