For much of the nation, a debate here and there and nonstop media coverage of the presidential race is about all the politics they can take.
But I live in Iowa.
We’ve been flooded here under a political tidal wave that makes the breakers in “The Finest Hours” look like ripples in a puddle. We struggle to stay afloat amid flyer-stuffed mailboxes, TV and radio commercials played so frequently we can recite them in our sleep and politicians in tour buses parked at every buffet restaurant and truck stop.
So, with the Iowa Caucuses only hours away, how refreshing a palate cleanser is “The Finest Hours,” a true story of heroism, forgiveness and self-sacrifice for the good of others with no thought of personal glory or elected office.
The movie tells the based-on-a-true-story tale of massive storm that hit Massachusetts in February 1952. While most of the U.S. Coast Guard’s nearby ships were launched to rescue the sailors of an oil tanker that had split in two, a second tanker, the S.S. Pendleton, was also split in two by the violent waves. All that was left to rescue the sailors of the Pendleton was a single Coast Guard boat, manned by four men and overwhelmed by the storm-tossed seas.
The movie is everything you’d expect from the trailers: Snowstorms, gigantic ocean waves, an innocent, 1950s love story, quaint pieces of history, courageous men of the U.S. Coast Guard, a daring rescue and more. The visuals are impressive, the action riveting and the conclusion absolutely satisfying. It’s feel-good entertainment.
True, it isn’t much more than that. Not much complexity. No particularly stunning performances, though the male and female leads are solid. The script isn’t revolutionary. I doubt the typical critics are going to like this one much.
But many in this audience will like it very much.
For “The Finest Hours” is remarkably clean, the hero both boyishly innocent and manly brave. It feels like a throwback movie, not just about the 1950s, but like it was made in the 1950s. It’s themes of a socially awkward boy growing into a daring hero and self-sacrifice to save your fellow man are affirming and inspiring.
The only other worldview element – a tug of war between the concepts of faith and luck – is present, but underdeveloped and not really resolved.
All in all, the movie isn’t great enough to rescue my fellow Iowans from the political deluge, but for many in this audience, it might just float your boat.
- “The Finest Hours,” rated PG-13, contains about a dozen obscenities and profanities, most of the mild variety.
- The film has no nudity and very little sexual content, consisting of a lewd comment, a pair of kisses, and a couple of bikini-clad pinup girls in the background.
- The only violence in the film is from the disaster at sea, as some sailors are injured, killed or imperiled during the calamity. It can be alarming, but it avoids gore.
- The film contains no occult references and several, positive faith elements, including prayer, a card bearing the words of Psalm 23 and a man clinging to his rosary. There is a character to scoffs at prayer, insisting instead on action, but this is not portrayed as an admirable stance. There are exclamations of the rescue being a “miracle.”