Thirteen Lives parents guide

Thirteen Lives Parent Guide

This dramatization of a real life rescue provides lots of tension and lessons about courage and perseverance.

Overall A-

Amazon Prime: Based on a true story, a group of young soccer players are trapped in a system of caves with their coach. As the monsoon returns, it's a race against time to rescue them.

Release date August 5, 2022

Violence B
Sexual Content A
Profanity C-
Substance Use B

Why is Thirteen Lives rated PG-13? The MPAA rated Thirteen Lives PG-13 for some strong language and unsettling images

Run Time: 147 minutes

Parent Movie Review

After winning a match, the members of a Thai boys’ soccer team decide to celebrate by exploring the local cave and then going to a birthday party. What they don’t know is that heavy monsoon rains are going to fall, without warning and weeks ahead of schedule, flooding the entire cave system.

Not knowing if the boys have survived, local authorities coordinate an effort to find and, if possible, rescue any survivors. Thankfully, expert cave divers from the British Cave Rescue Council, Richard Stanton (Viggo Mortensen) and John Volanthen (Colin Farrell), are able to locate a cave two-and-a-half kilometers into the system where all 12 boys and their coach are still alive – but not for long. They are in desperate need of food, and the oxygen levels in the cave are falling. If the boys are to be rescued, desperate measures must be taken. With the help of Dr Richard Harris (Joel Edgerton), another expert diver, and thousands of volunteers, they might just have a chance…if they can move faster than the upcoming rain.

I had pretty low expectations for this movie. Rescue movies frequently spend a lot of time with the survivors in whichever unpleasant enclosure they find themselves in, and that has a tendency to bog down the movie. Not so with Thirteen Lives, which focuses almost exclusively on the rescue attempt. That’s not to say the script ignores the experiences of the soccer team, but their scenes are more impactful for the film’s emphasis on the struggles to save them. Focusing on the rescue is far more dynamic and exciting than trapping your audience underground.

And it’s a good thing director Ron Howard picked the storyline he did, because this movie is nearly two-and-a-half hours long. Even with a strong cast and a good sense of pacing, this is not a short film, and isn’t particularly suitable for young children. Apart from the long runtime, much of the film’s dialogue is in Thai (at least, I think that’s the language – the Thai government officially recognizes 62 different languages in the region, and I don’t know enough about them to tell them apart by ear), and the subtitles can move pretty quickly. I appreciate that the film didn’t just have Thai characters speaking English all the time, but it does make the film tricky for younger viewers or slow readers.

There aren’t too many content concerns, apart from some brief profanity, but the film is constantly tense, and characters spend pretty much the whole time in some sort of mortal peril. If you can handle that, and the length, Thirteen Lives is a surprisingly engaging look at a remarkable rescue, one which sees a great deal of hard work, selflessness, and plain old good luck.

Directed by Ron Howard. Starring Colin Farrel, Joel Edgerton, and Viggo Mortensen. Running time: 147 minutes. Theatrical release August 5, 2022. Updated

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Thirteen Lives
Rating & Content Info

Why is Thirteen Lives rated PG-13? Thirteen Lives is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for some strong language and unsettling images

Violence: Several individuals suffer scrapes and cuts from sharp rocks. A man asphyxiates and dies.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: There are two sexual expletives, three scatological terms, and occasional mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Adult secondary characters are seen smoking tobacco. Other adult characters are briefly seen with beer at a celebration.

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Thirteen Lives Parents' Guide

How faithful is this film to the actual events? What are some aspects of the rescue that the film chose not to explore? How do filmmakers decide what ends up on screen? What kind of influence do those decisions have on public understandings about these events?

Wikipedia: Tham Luang cave rescue

Maclean’s: The heroes of the Thai cave rescue

Slate: What’s Fact and What’s Fiction in Thirteen Lives


Home Video

Related home video titles:

Other rescue movies based on true stories include Jungle, Captain Phillips, Everest, Apollo 13, Eight Below, Sully, The 33, Castaway, and Deepwater Horizon.