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The Life Of Pi Plot Spoiler And Summary

Pi, the symbol, not the guy (public domain image via wikipedia)

The new Life Of Pi movie came out this week. I’m going to summarize the film for you. As is the case with all my movie discussions, I have not seen the movie. I’ve only seen a television commercial.

The movie is based on a book that I haven’t read. If you plan on seeing the movie, stop here and come back after you see the movie. I don’t want to spoil the plot for you.

And Now, The Story

Once upon a time, there was a mathematician named Pi. His real name was Phil, but all his buddies called him Pi because of the math thing.

Phil shared a house in India with several roommates. They knew that Phil’s work was taking a toll on him. Spending all day doing math problems was making him boring and no fun. They decided to help him by pooling their money and surprising him with a cruise vacation.

Locator map showing India and Sri Lanka

It was to be a short cruise to Sri Lanka (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the roommates, Walt, was put in charge of making Phil’s travel arrangements. Walt was a sketchy character. He booked a cheaper cruise than the friends agreed upon and kept the money he saved by doing so.

Phil found himself on an outdated cruise ship that was doubling as a freighter. On this trip, the ship was transporting a circus to an engagement in Sri Lanka. The seas were rough. Between ship’s motion and the smell of the animals in the hold, everyone was seasick.

No one was sicker than the ship’s captain (played by Francesco Schettino in the role he was born to play). He was so sick that he left the bridge. The ship hit a reef while he was throwing up over the side. Down went the ship. Phil ended up in the water, hanging on to one of those broken boards that are always in the water after a shipwreck.

It Looked Like All Was Lost

Tiger in South India

The Tiger, before the cruise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An empty lifeboat drifted by. Phil swam as if his life depended on it, which it did. Phil didn’t see a tiger also swimming for its life because the lifeboat was between them. Exhausted, our hero dragged himself up into the boat while The Tiger did the same from the other side.

“Yo, sorry chief, this boat is taken.”

The Tiger looked at Phil like he was a madman. “You’re kidding me, right? I mean, you see who I am,” said The Tiger.

Phil spat the saltwater taste from his mouth, then said “you smell like a wet cat.”

“I will eat you, man. I will totally eat you” said The Tiger”

“Oh, will you? Tell me, Mr. Not King Of The Jungle, if you eat me who is going to row this boat? You don’t have hands.”

We Can Work It Out

The rivals regarded one another while The Tiger considered what Phil had told him. He realized Phil had a point. Eating the human would be satisfying in the short-term, but could have long-term implications. The Tiger couldn’t grip the oars. Without being rowed, the boat would carry him further out to sea.

Phil and The Tiger reached an agreement. The human would row them ashore, the predator would not predate. They had no chance to survive as individuals. Together, they had a chance.

While Phil rowed his heart out, The Tiger navigated. He scanned the horizon for signs of the landfall that could save them. As he rowed, Phil taught the jungle cat calculus. The Tiger kept the human entertained by regaling him with tales from his hunts and off-color jokes about gazelles. Together, they made steady progress toward civilization and safety.

About 3.14159 days after their ship went down, Phil rowed the lifeboat ashore with The Tiger cheering him on. Together they celebrated their survival. Then The Tiger ate Pi. Three days with a mathematician will challenge the ethics of even the most noble creature.

Roll credits.

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22 Comments on “The Life Of Pi Plot Spoiler And Summary”

  1. Laura says:

    I can’t decide whether to see this movie or not — I loved the book, but the movie previews I’ve seen don’t seem to do it justice. Anyway, your summary is shockingly accurate, except it was 3.14159 days after their ship went down, not 3.1419.

    • omawarisan says:

      Thanks for validating my summary and for catching the math error. I made the correction.

      The one thing I don’t understand is the talking tiger. He can talk, but he’s scraping by in some low rent circus. Why? He could be so much more.

  2. I had a minister once who used this book to demonstrate a point in a sermon. In 45 seconds, he managed to spoil the entire plot and ending. You’re pretty much on the right track.

  3. Michelle Gillies says:

    I’ve not read the book or seen the movie either. I’m not likely to now. Thanks for saving me the time and money.

  4. Under-achieving, talking tigers? Math whiz? Is it any wonder why David O. Selznick turned this turkey down half way through the pitch? Even the great Don Knotts as the talking tiger couldn’t save this dud!

  5. Debbie says:

    Hmm, I think you’ve pretty much summarized this, based on the ads I’ve seen. However, I never read the book and know nothing about tigers. Except that it’s hardly realistic for one NOT to eat a human if it’s hungry enough!

  6. T E Stazyk says:

    Where to begin. First, I loved the review but thought that it was the product of a mind rendered feverish by a turkey/cranberry/pumpkin pie extravagana. Because I thought there was no way a movie that even remotely resembled the one you describe could exist. So with trembling fingers I googled Life of Pi and found out there is in fact a movie and it is based on an award winning (!) book.

    All I can say is that your version is much more satisfying–at least for the tiger and the viewer. And I think your rendering of the dialogue between Pi and the tiger was much more realistic.

    • omawarisan says:

      Dialogue – I am trying to do more with that. I have to learn not to be afraid of it.

      The ads for the movie are all over television here. You cant really get a sense of what the movie is about from them. There is a tiger and a guy in a boat.

      A tiger and a guy are in a boat in the middle of the ocean…sounds like the start of a joke.

  7. I commend the tiger for waiting the 3.14159 days. Seems like a generous grace period to me.

  8. audreyhipbone says:

    Tiger’s gonna do what a tiger’s gonna do!

  9. robincoyle says:

    You made me laugh out loud with “Phil taught the jungle cat calculus.” Brilliant.


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