Monday, September 04, 2006

Annapolis (2006)

For our rainy Labor Day Holiday Weekend Annapolis (Touchstone 2006), written by Dave Collard and directed by Justin Lin, was our video pick in these parts. Based on the tagling “50,000 Apply. 1,200 Are Accepted. Only The Best Survive” and remembering clearly the action-packed trailer with explosions, fighter jets and so forth, I expected Annapolis to be either an action-packed adventure of naval life or an in-depth look into United States Naval Academy. Annapolis was neither.

Instead the story focused on Jake Huard (James Franco), a wait-listed applicant to the US. Naval Academy, who is told of his acceptance a few days before freshman orientation. Huard is an amateur boxer who works in the shipyards with his father on building naval vessels. It is a story of an undisciplined and hard-headed young man who want to fulfill his dream of being a naval officer.

The story was as much about boxing as it was about the Freshman (Pleb) year at the Academy. Cole (Tyrese Gibson) is the commanding officer for Huard’s brigade. He is a marine officer who makes Huard’s life especially difficult once he discovers that Huard is the “weak link” of the group. A boxing match between the two during the annual “Brigade Championship”, when all are equal in the ring regardless of rank, is the climax of the film.

Overall, Annapolis, was positive and respectful towards the military. It presented a high honor code and the consequences that follow if the code is broken. This was very edifying, given real-world scandals in the Academies and in the Navy, in particular. Regardless of these scandals, Hollywood is indeed able to present the good and the ideal of Academy and Naval life. My hope is that Hollywood would treat other institutions in a like fashion.

The “bonus features” showed that the producers and director of this movie were extremely conscientious to get the details of Academy life correct. They hired former Naval Academy graduates to train the actors and extras and to act as consultants. In particular, they stopped the director from having Cole hold an umbrella over himself in the rain while he drilled the cadets. A commanding officer would never do such a thing. He would get wet like the rest. My hope is that Hollywood would be as conscientious in gettting the details correct of other institutions in a like fashion.

My impression was that this movie was a light version of An Officer and a Gentleman (1982). The drama of turning civilians into naval officers took back seat to the storyline of Huard's boxing and his contention with Cole.

Other cast included: Jordana Brewster —nice name, Jordana— who played Midshipman Ali as Huard’s love interest and trained Huard both in boxing and in academy life; and Boston/Dorchester’s own (and former “New Kid”) Donnie Wallberg who played Lt. Commander Burton.

Photo: James Franco and Tyrese Gibson
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