As I sat down to write this review for the new Disney Pictures film, 'The Finest Hours,' I found myself struggling. I didn't want to write another boilerplate "the film is like this and you should see it for reasons" review.
Nonetheless, here are my Big Thoughts about 'The Finest Hours.'
The film tells the true story of the most courageous small boat rescue in Coast Guard history. In February of 1952, one of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast struck New England, damaging an oil tanker off the coast of Cape Cod and ripping it in half. On a small lifeboat faced with frigid temperatures and 70 foot high waves, four members of the Coast Guard set out to rescue the more than 30 stranded sailors trapped aboard the rapidly sinking vessel.
I have a confession to make: I did not want to like this movie.
I had seen the first trailer and thought, "A disaster movie? No, thank you."
When I received the invitation from Disney to screen the film - in 3D! - I was absolutely ready to decline. Because disaster movie? In 3D? NO. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
However, I am a soft touch when it comes to adorable young actors and when I heard that I would also be getting to interview Chris Pine (8sigh), Casey Affleck and Ben Foster, I agreed to see and review 'The Finest Hours.' (I know. Shallow. Shut up.)
The screening was on a Monday evening in LA and the press junket was the very next day. I decided to just stay in LA and embrace it.
More confession: I was feeling the beginnings of a head cold coming on with the requisite headache, so I thought I'd at least stay for the first half hour of the film - in 3D! - and hope that would be enough to formulate an informed opinion. I know. It's cheating. But I promise you, my sinuses felt like they might explode. So, shut up.
My low expectations and I went into the theater. I should add here that I was super feeling sorry for myself because I could feel that cold starting to get worse, and throwing aches and pains into the mix made me über-fussy. It was in this state that I sat through the first 30 minutes of 'The Finest Hours.'
And then a thing happened: I became so engrossed in the story that I DID NOT WANT TO LEAVE.
I started to care about Bernie (Chris Pine) and Miriam (Holliday Grainger). Would he come back to her? Would they get married? Could she handle the life of a Coast Guard wife?
There were over 30 men whose lives were at stake on the broken oil tanker. Could they be reached in time? could RAy (Casey Affleck) become the leader they would need to endure and survive this tragedy? Would the Coast Guard reach them in time? How ewre they going to rescue all those guys in that tiny wooden boat? I NEEDED TO KNOW.
The 'disaster' part of the story? Riveting. Not sensational at all. The storytelling unfolded beautifully that way.
As you have probably deduced by now, I stayed and watched the entire film to the end - in 3 D! And I even sat through the credits because they were just as interesting as the film.
And I cried. And I cared. And I couldn't wait to get home and Google this historic rescue. In fact, my first words to Eric were, "You've go to see 'The Finest Hours' - in 3 D! - to get the full effect, of course."
It's not really a disaster movie. It's about the common, everyday bravery of guys just 'doing their job,' which happens to be risking their own lives without a second thought, because that's what they did.
My review of Disney's 'The Finest Hours?' See it. You will come away more educated and with a new appreciation of the true meaning of 'hero.'
Also, I liked it.
Disney's 'The Finest Hours' opens in theaters everywhere today, Friday, January 29th, 2016.
Full disclosure: I was not compensated in any way by Disney. They invited me to see the film for review purposes. The opinion that it is riveting is my very own. Thankyouverymuch.