Film Reviews


By • Jan 27th, 2006 •

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Buena VistaPictures / Touchstone Pictures / PG-13 / 105 minutes

QUOTE: A fantasy with James Franco as a strong male lead and Jordana Brewster as his child-like female boxing coach.

ANNAPOLIS does not break any new ground or uncover any dramatic kinks in its military armor. Dirt-poor and emotionally scarred shipbuilder Jake Huard (James Franco) wants to go to Annapolis. He promised his mother on her deathbed! He’s got lousy grades and no political clout, but his persistence gets him from the wait list into the U.S. Naval Academy. Apparently, some other candidates fall out at the last minute. He’s in! There are quotas to fill.

As with every movie ever made, motherless Huard has been raised by a distant, uninterested father. Dad (Brian Goodman) doesn’t want his son to have an illustrious military career. He wants him to work as a laborer. Hey, don’t mock it. A few more years and Huard could join the union and get medical.

At Annapolis boot camp Huard rooms with Twins (Vicellous Shannon), a fat black kid whose entire town had a parade celebrating his acceptance to Annapolis, a by-the rules Asian, Loo (Roger Fan), and a hot-headed Hispanic, Estrada (Wilmer Calderon).

I thought you needed old money and a call from the Pope to get into Annapolis.

Huard’s company commander, Lt. Cole (Tyrese Gibson), is a real Central Casting hard ass. He’d scare Satan. Since Huard had done some amateur boxing, he challenges Cole, the reigning champ, in the big Navy boxing competition. Are we to assume that Huard and his fellow plebes thought they were to be cuddled and hugged at boot camp? And who is the best person to train Huard?

Like you and I would, Huard picks 5′ 2″, 105 lb. midshipman Ali (Jordana Brewster). She looks like she never even mussed up her French manicure or walked into a boxing gym, but nevertheless, she has the corner ring manner of a tough old guy with hair spilling out of his nose. Brewster is miscast but it is Hollywood casting 101. Remember Tara Reid as a genius anthropologist in ALONE IN THE DARK, Jessica Alba as a scientist in FANTASTIC FOUR, and Denise Richards as a hot pants nuclear scientist in THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH?

Why not stop the pretense and just cast Dakota Fanning as the next Bond girl?

While there are thousands of young men going through boot camp at Annapolis, the only characters screenwriter Dave Collard can unearth are the fat black kid who can’t make the physical challenges, a righteous Asian, and the meanest commander without the slightest inclination to make soldiers out of the plebes.

All I can say is that, as shown here, Annapolis is filled with boring life stories.

I cannot fault Franco for signing on for this role. It is an appropriate showcase for building a career. He’s a good actor getting ready for a great role. ANNAPOLIS is merely a name recognition project (with his face on the poster). However, why Brewster accepted this role is a mystery. I know: She needed the money. Brewster is quite attractive but her casting diminishes the movie’s intent. She just does not have the physical presence to be in a soldier movie wrapped around boxing.

Jake Huard: James Franco
Cole: Tyrese Gibson
Ali: Jordana Brewster
Lt. Cmdr. Burton: Donnie Wahlberg
Twins: Vicellous Shannon
Loo: Roger Fan
Whitaker: McCaleb Burnett
Estrada: Wilmer Calderon
McNally: Chi McBride

Director: Justin Lin
Screenplay: Dave Collard
Producers: Damien Saccani, Mark Vahradian
Executive producer: Steve Nicolaides
Director of photography: Phil Abraham
Production designer: Patti Podesta
Film editor: Fred Raskin
Costume designer: Gloria Gresham
Music: Brian Tyler

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