There are many actors who have made the jump to the director's chair and found great success, but George Clooney is just not one of them. While some of his films as a director have had critical success, more often than not they miss the mark. After his last two films ('The Midnight Sky' and 'The Tender Bar') went straight to streaming, Clooney is returning to the big screen after 2017's 'Suburbicon' with a true story which was turned into a best-selling book.
'The Boys in the Boat' documents the University of Washington's rowing team's journey to the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. Coach Al Ulbrickson Sr (Joel Edgerton, 'Boy Erased', 'It Comes at Night') faces challenges building his team and turns to the working-class students of Washington, having them try out for a spot on the team. Many of the members aren't rowers and simply looking for work so they can pay their tuition. The film follows Joe Rantz (Callum Turner, 'Fantastic Beasts' franchise, 'Emma.'), one of the rowers on the team and his struggles during the 1930s.
SWITCH: 'THE BOYS IN THE BOAT' TRAILER
'The Boys in the Boat' is the definition of a background film. There is so little to grab onto that, by the end, you don't really know why this was made. Sure, on paper it's the story of the American Dream, being an underdog and taking home gold for your country, but the film isn't even interested in diving into that concept. It's hot men rowing boats for two hours - and even I get bored of that.
There is no character in this, both literally and figuratively. The two characters we follow, Al and Joe, have nothing to them; they're the pure definition of cardboard. The film is also dying to be an ensemble piece, but outside of maybe two other team members the rest of The Boys are interchangeable and truly serve no purpose. I struggle to understand why this was told, why now, what the creative team is trying to say with this. There is no reason for this to exist outside of something for the over-60 audience and even then, there is much more engaging content for them... this film truly serves no purpose.
On paper it's the story of the American Dream, being an underdog and taking home gold for your country, but the film isn't even interested in diving into that concept.
I do have some positives. The film is incredibly well-shot; the rowing scenes do look quite beautiful and I'm sure the 4K Blu-ray will be used on TVs at Harvey Norman in the future. Even if I'm so unengaged in the story if you show me an underdog team going for gold, I will be rooting for them and completely captivated. The race scenes were very well done and I wish that energy was used in the rest of the film. Lastly the score is nice; Alexandre Desplat is no stranger to historical dramas and he did a fine job here.
Once again, Clooney in the director's chair just misses the mark. 'The Boys in the Boat' simply exists, and I'm going to remember so little about it. It's fine, but there is no reason to row into cinemas to see this.
Callum Turner, I am so sorry for the bleaching they did to your hair and I hope you got paid well to get it repaired and healthy again.