Prime Video's new No. 1 movie has some of the strongest audience scores I've ever seen — but critics disagree

The cast of "The Boys in the Boat"
(Image credit: Amazon MGM Studios)

Critics and audiences don’t always see eye-to-eye. In fact, they don’t often agree, in my experience. It’s certainly not uncommon to see a movie or show arrive on one of the best streaming services and make a real splash with one group, while the other isn’t convinced. That’s certainly the case with “The Boys in the Boat” which is now available on Amazon Prime Video. 

George Clooney directed this 2023 sports drama, and it landed on Prime Video earlier this week (Tuesday, May 28). It’s made some serious waves already and has surpassed popular picks like “The Blue Angels” and “The Idea of You” to claim the No. 1 spot on the platform. 

Even more impressive, “The Boys in the Boat” boasts some of the strongest audience scores I’ve ever seen, so if you’re considering adding this flick to your next movie night marathon, here are all the details you need to know…

What is ‘The Boys in the Boat’ about? 

Inspired by true events, and based on the 2013 novel by Daniel James Brown, “The Boys in the Boat” chronicles the inspirational story of the University of Washington rowing team as they compete with elite opposition to earn the gold medal at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Set during the Great Depression, and with the political tensions simmering (the 1936 Olympics were fraught with controversy due to the rise of the Nazi party in German), this underdog team of U.S. rowers faced great challenges on and off the water. However, each team member rises to meet this adversity as they attempt to earn a spot at the top of the podium.

The movie features a strong ensemble cast but is led by Joel Edgerton as Al Ulbrickson, the team’s steadfast coach, with Callum Turner playing Joe Rantz, a key rower in the squad who views the sport as a chance to escape his troubled adolescence. Other cast members include Peter Guinness, Jack Mulhern, James Wolk and Hadley Robinson. 

‘The Boys in the Boat’ reviews — critics vs viewers

“The Boys in the Boat” currently holds a pretty underwhelming 57% score from professional critics on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. However, the picture does improve when you filter by “Top Critics” leaping up to 62%, which is more respectable but still not a score that any studio would want to include on the movie’s poster. 

RT’s critics consensus reads, “The Boys in the Boat tells its inspirational true story with heart and solid craftsmanship, but director George Clooney's stolidly traditional approach prevents it from leaving much of an impact” with critics also labeling it a by-the-numbers biopic that lacks truly memorable moments. The performances of the cast were at least highly praised.

However, viewers have a different take on this historical drama. The movie holds an impressive 97% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. This is especially noteworthy because the score comes from more than 2,500 verified ratings. 

Often when a movie has a near-perfect audience score the sample size is quite low, but in this case, there’s a large quantity of reviews backing up the high score. Audiences appear to love this movie a whole lot more than the critics. 

Looking at the audience reviews words like “inspiring”, “captivating” and “exciting” are common, with several declaring it a “must-watch”. While critics might not have warmed up to Clooney’s latest directorial effort, viewers have, and that's the most important thing. 

Should you stream ‘The Boys in the Boat’ on Prime Video?

I have to confess that when it comes to judging “The Boys in the Boat” I skew a little closer to the critics. While I found the biopic to be well constructed, and well-acted, it was a little too sleepy for me, with a tone and narrative that never quite grabbed my full attention. 

Nevertheless, don’t let my lukewarm reaction to the movie stop you from watching. Between its strong audience scores and the fact it’s shot straight to the top of Prime Video’s most-watched list, it’s clear that “The Boys in the Boat” is a real crowd-pleaser. And if you’re looking for a feel-good movie, that is appropriate for the whole family, it’s an ideal pick. 

Alternatively, if you want even more options, check out our roundup of the best movies in the Prime Video top 10 list. And be sure to stream “The Boys in the Boat” on Prime Video now. 

More from Tom's Guide

Rory Mellon
Entertainment Editor (UK)

Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.