Making the Grades
On October 30, 1991, a dying hurricane off the east coast of the U.S. collided with two other weather systems, resulting in "The Perfect Storm" -- the most powerful storm in recorded history.
Trapped in its clutches was the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat from the historic fishing community of Gloucester, Massachusetts. Captain Billy Tyne (George Clooney) and his crew had set sail earlier for the Grand Banks in hopes of more profitable fishing. A sparse catch including a menacing shark (which attacks one of the crew) motivates them to explore the Flemish Cap on the extreme eastern reaches of their usual fishing area. Although they find success, word of the storm brewing between them and Gloucester forces Tyne to decide between waiting out the weather and letting his fish spoil, or sailing head-on into danger.
Based on the true story of the Andrea Gail, this film begins with all the elements of a perfect movie. Unfortunately, it is any thing but the perfect screenplay. Lengthy introductions to the main characters and a disconnected sub-plot about another small craft that gets stuck in the storm contribute little to this over two-hour epic.
Parents may be concerned by the movie's depiction of these fishermen and their rowdy lifestyle. When they aren't at sea risking their lives, they spend their evenings in The Crow's Nest; a Gloucester bar conveniently equipped with rooms upstairs for personal "meetings." The cast's only married crewmember is separated from his wife, while the others hope to be the next to head upstairs. If they are lucky enough to get involved in an activity that will shake the lights in the bar below them, the bar's patrons cheer.
Sexual innuendo subsides after the Andrea Gail leaves port, and the focus shifts to fishing. But once the storm sequences begin, young viewers may be troubled watching the crew face extremely tense moments fighting against the elements, only to come to the inevitable unhappy (but true) conclusion. Combine this with some profane language and smoking, and this storm may have too many rough waters for your family.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Perfect Storm.
The best part of this movie is its accompanying website at www.perfectstorm.net The site features an incredible amount of information about how the movie was made, the history of fishing on the East Coast, and how severe storms are born. Make sure you follow the link on the left side called The Storm and then press Storm Science for an exhaustive list of other weather-science websites featuring information about many storms, including the one featured in this movie.