Boys in the Boat, The

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Not suitable under 8; parental guidance to 10 (lack of interest for younger viewers, themes, coarse language)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Boys in the Boat, The
  • a review of Boys in the Boat, The completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 4 January 2024.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 8 Not suitable due to lack of interest, themes and coarse language.
Children aged 8–10 Parental guidance recommended due to themes and coarse language.
Children aged 11 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Boys in the Boat, The
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes and coarse language
Length: 123 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Set in the Depression era of the 1930’s, Joe Rantz (Callum Turner) is doing his best to complete a college education with no money to support himself. His mother died when he was young and his father left him, at the age of 14, to find work – leaving Joe to take care of himself. Living in an old car, Joe finds whatever work he can find to pay his college fees. When his friend Roger (Sam Strike) suggests they try out for the junior rowing team, Joe decides to give it a go as a way of earning money.

Joe and Roger are picked, from a large group of applicants, along with six other young men, to compete. The coach, Al Ulbrickson (Joel Edgerton), drives the young men hard; he is firm but fair. It is George Pocock (Peter Guinness), the boatbuilder, who makes a connection with Joe, however, and helps him through his difficult moments. When the team beats California and the other Ivy League teams, Coach Al decides to send them to the Olympics in Hitler’s Germany. The team doesn’t disappoint and goes on to win gold against all odds.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Sport; Poverty.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • The chairman of the rowing club yells at Coach Al because he doesn’t agree with his decision.
  • One of the team calls Joe a ‘hobo’, which he finds insulting and hits out at him. The rest of the team have to restrain Joe from an all-out fight.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • Nothing more particularly scary noted for this age group.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Joe lives in a very impoverished area where everyone lives in old cars or on the streets. It’s a grim picture of the Depression era.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Joe talks about how his Mum died when he was young and his Dad moved away to find work, leaving him to fend for himself at the age of 14.
  • Joe finds his dad out on the street and it turns out he’s been back from California for a couple of years but hasn’t tried to get in contact with Joe. He’s quite dismissive and cold towards Joe, and tells him he went off to war when he was 14.
  • The Nazi symbols and fervour are quite disturbing.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further noted.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Joyce, a fellow student, flirts with Joe. There is a romance between the two and they kiss. One time, Joe goes to her accommodation and he turns his back while she changes clothes.
  • The coxswain says that he likes how his nuts vibrate when the oars hit the water.
  • Al’s wife is seen in bed, wearing a negligee. She gets up and finds Al sitting outside on the veranda. Al comments on the beautiful view, and she says that he should come and see if there’s another view he would enjoy, as she drops her dressing gown.
  • Joyce lies down on a bed next to Joe.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • No nudity but men are seen in the locker room, showering with bare tops.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Quite a lot of drinking and smoking throughout. In the poor areas, men are seen drinking out of bottles; the boys sit around a campfire drinking; there is smoking and drinking at a show; as well as drinking at a bar etc.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Damn
  • Bullshit
  • Arseholes
  • Oh God
  • What the hell
  • Jesus
  • Christ
  • Goddamn
  • Arse
  • Shit.

In a nutshell

The Boys in the Boat is based on a true story and a book written by Daniel James Brown. It is a sports drama about a disadvantaged rowing team from Washington University, who not only beat the local Ivy League teams but go on to eventually win a gold medal at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It is an inspirational movie about overcoming disadvantage, and while there is little violence or scary scenes in the movie, it is likely to hold little interest for children under 8, and is best suited for older children, teens and adults.

The main messages from this movie are that anything is achievable if you put your mind to it, regardless of what your background is; and the importance of teamwork.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Hard work
  • Persistence
  • Loyalty
  • Tenacity
  • Friendship
  • Mentoring.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • How Joe overcame his personal difficulties and how hard that would have been for a 14-year-old.