This movie at a glance
  • Parental guidance recommended
  • Not recommended for children under 10
  • Parental guidance for children under 12
  • Suitable for children over 12
  • Contains frightening scenes
  • Contains disturbing or upsetting scenes
Genre Action, Drama, History
Length 117 minutes
Release Date 03/03/2016


Not recommended for children under 10 Not recommended for children under 10
Parental guidance for children under 12 Parental guidance for children under 12
Suitable for children over 12 Suitable for children over 12
Contains frightening scenes Contains frightening scenes
Contains disturbing or upsetting scenes Contains disturbing or upsetting scenes


The Finest Hours is based on a true story set in 1952. An oil tanker is stuck in the ocean during a violent storm and splits in two, leaving the crew stranded. Four members of the Cape Cod Coastguard are the only people available to help.

Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), Richard Livesey (Ben Foster), Andy Fitzgerald (Kyle Gallner) and Ervin Maske (John Magaro) set out in a small lifeboat. They must brave freezing temperatures and giant waves to save the tanker crew. Meanwhile on the oil tanker, Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck) is desperately trying to organise the crew to help him keep the boat from rapidly sinking.

Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Natural disasters; storms and shipwrecks; death; separation from friends and family
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
The Finest Hours shows no person-to-person violence, but it does show men being thrown around and injured as the small boat is tossed in the waves and the oil tanker breaks up.

Content that may disturb children

Under 8
The Finest Hours has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight years. For example:

  • Children might feel very anxious when the small life boat struggles to get over giant crashing waves. Several times it looks as if the crew might die, but they don’t. 
  • It’s quite scary when the large oil tanker is crashing about on the waves and then breaks in half. The tanker is also flooding inside. Water rushes around and objects are tossed about. Several crewmen narrowly miss being hit in the head.
  • A man is killed trying to jump from the oil tanker to the lifeboat. The scene doesn’t show blood or gore.
  • People in the town talk about how some men died in a storm the previous year and suggest that the Coastguard is going on a suicide mission. 

From 8-13

Younger children in this age group might also be scared by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

The Finest Hours has some sexual references, including when Bernie and Miriam flirt gently.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

The Finest Hours shows characters drinking socially at a bar.

Nudity and sexual activity

The Finest Hours shows some sexual activity, including when Bernie and Miriam kiss twice.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in The Finest Hours: Coors beer.

Coarse language

The Finest Hours has some mild coarse language.

Ideas to discuss with your children

The Finest Hours is an inspiring action movie based on the true story of the US Coastguard’s greatest small boat rescue mission. 

This is an intense movie that brings to life the force of nature and the risks taken by people at sea.

Because of the movie’s intensity and scary scenes, we don’t recommend it for children under 10 years, and we recommend parental guidance for children aged 10-12 years.

The main messages from this movie are to trust your instincts, be brave and do what you believe is right. 

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the importance of not blindly following authority figures and using your own judgment to make decisions.


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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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