Did I just say "James Franco vehicle"? God help us all.
You'd think that a movie about the U.S. Naval Academy would have at least one scene with a boat in it. You know, something in the water. The only boat in "Annapolis," however, is in dry dock, which is an apt metaphor for a film that goes absolutely nowhere. To be honest, this is probably fortunate, because if this James Franco vehicle (did I just say "James Franco vehicle"? God help usall) showed even the slightest ambition to hit the open water, it would quickly go the way of the "The Poseidon Adventure."
This movie plays like a combination of an extended U.S. Navy commercial, a corporate ethics training video, and the back of a cereal box. Some scenes actually play out like this:
Plebe 1: "Hey, can I cheat off your exam?"
Plebe 2: "I don't know man, we're supposed to buckle down and study."
Plebe 1: "C'mon man! Be cool!"
Plebe 2: "Sorry, I can't. You'd only be cheating yourself. And your country."
Jake Huard (James Franco) seems destined for a life on the docks, but discovers right before the semester starts that he's just squeaked in to the Naval Academy. Once there, Annapolis proves, well, mild. His commanding officer nemesis, Cole (Tyrese Gibson) is mean, but not too mean. Jake is rebellious, but not too rebellious. His love interest Ali is hot, but not too hot. Jake considers dropping out after a mildly frustrating, but not too frustrating, semester. I swear to you, it's that boring.
Director Justin ("nothing you've ever heard of") Lin's opening shot establishes that Jake is a boxer. So guess what event serves as the movie's climax? That's right: A Naval Academy boxing tournament known as "the brigades." Guess who he meets in the final round? That's right: Cole, who seems to have been cast largely due to his resemblance to the "Bald Bull" boxer in the classic "Punch Out" video game.
"Annapolis" is the kind of movie they'll show in film schools to define bad casting. The choice of Jordana Brewster to play Jake's love interest is particularly unfortunate, as it's clear she finds James Franco repulsive. While the script says "kiss me Jake you big stud," and the camera moves in for a close up, her micro-expressions telegraph that it's all she can do to hold down her lunch. I don't know what sort of vibe was transpiring between those two, but if they had been portraying Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger in divorce court, I would call for less venom.
Avoid that sinking feeling: Stay away from "Annapolis."
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