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Release Dates:2005
Running Time:108 minutes
Formats: In Theaters Now
Starring:James Franco, Tyrese Gibson, Jordana Brewster, Donnie Wahlberg
Directed By:Justin Lin
Produced By:Mark Vahradian, Damien Saccani, Gym Hinderer, Steve Nicolaides
Written By:David Collard
Reviewed By:Burke G Sheppard

Itís like this: Thereís this young guy, from the wrong side of the tracks, who dreams of being a Naval officer. He has a troubled relationship with his father. While in officer training, he clashes with a stern, demanding black drill instructor who sees potential in the young man, and pushes him to excel. Along the way, one of his classmates attempts suicide, and thereís also this girl the young man meets who believes in him and...

If you think your reviewer is describing An Officer and a Gentleman, think again. He is actually describing Annapolis, a miserable excuse for a movie that accomplishes nothing except to demonstrate how little Hollywood knows about the military. Watching it, one can easily see why the Navy refused to allow Buena Vista Pictures to use footage shot at Annapolis in the film, and why it sent out an e-mail warning that ďAnyone attending a screening or promotional activity for the film should not attend in uniform.Ē

The movie begins with Jake Huard (Played by a pouty, brooding James Franco), being informed that he has been accepted by the Naval Academy, even though his grades arenít very good. Unfortunately he is not informed of this until the day before classes are to start, so he has little time to prepare. He quits his job at the shipyard across the river from Annapolis, which builds warships for the Navy, and reports for duty. And no, there is not really a shipyard across the river from Annapolis. This movie was shot in Philadelphia, where there is a shipyard, and apparently a university that would allow Buena Vista to film on their campus.

Annapolis is at least two different sets of movie cliches stuck together with Elmerís glue and a few staples. Director Justin Lin devotes a lot of time to the physical training involved. (No one ever seems to attend a class.) All of the requisite military movie cliches are on display. The characters are pretty much tracings of tracings of tracings from other, better movies. Thereís Cole, the strict drill instructor (Tyrese Gibson), the sloppy, fat recruit who canít keep up (Vicellous Reon), and the stern commanding officer (Donnie Wahlberg). And of course there is the girl, in this case an upperclassman played by Jordana Brewster, who looks good in a uniform and fraternizes with Huard.

None of these characters ever evinces much interest in actually becoming a Naval officer. Indeed, the main purpose of Annapolis, at least in the movie, seems to be to produce great boxers. (Although Brewster does not box in the film, nor does any other female midshipman. Presumably they are there to fraternize.) Indeed, Annapolis turns into a boxing movie early on, with the main conflict revolving around whether or not Huard can make it into the Brigade championship and face Cole in the ring. Huard, you see, has it in for Cole, who he feels has been riding him and rest of the company too hard. (Huard even strikes Cole twice outside the ring, but is not expelled for striking a superior officer.) Besides, in the ring he will find out who he truly is, or something like that. Huard gobbles candy bars to put himself in Coleís weight class and gets Brewster to be his boxing trainer, although her qualifications for the job are never explained.

For all of its borrowing from An Officer and a Gentleman and Rocky, the story Annapolis most closely resembles is Frankenstein. In that story, Dr Frankenstein stitched together various parts of various people, and animated his creation so that it sort of shambled around. Annapolis is nothing but bits of other movies thrown together in a giant, shambolic mess. And as with Dr Frankensteinís experiments, the results arenít pretty.


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