Movie Review

Annapolis

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence, sexual content and language

Reviewed by: Bob Rossiter
CONTRIBUTOR

Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Drama, Sports, Military
Length:
1 hr. 45 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
January 27, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Touchstone Pictures

Suicide, what does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer

Featuring: James Franco, Jordana Brewster, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Donnie Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson
Director: Justin Lin
Producer: Steven Nicolaides, Mark Vahradian, Gym Hinderer
Distributor: Touchstone Pictures

“50,000 apply. 1,200 are accepted. Only the best survive.”

Copyright, Touchstone PicturesFrom the moment I first saw the trailers to “Annapolis” I wanted to see it. I guess it was the “hoorah for our American servicemen” portrayal that captured my interest. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed. Several scenes weren’t entirely accurate, but we need to remember that this film is a work of fiction, not a documentary.

Jake Huard (James Franco) had always dreamed of attending Annapolis and becoming a naval officer. His now deceased mother was the only one who ever believed he could do it. It was a promise made to her that inspired him to start training at Annapolis, but in order to finish, he had to learn how to believe in himself.

Jake had a couple personality flaws he had to work through. He began as a “lone ranger” type who didn’t help others and wouldn’t accept their assistance. This would result in his entire team being punished or losing reward. At one point, one of his mistakes leads to all the team members being ordered to give their dinners to Jake. Oddly enough, however, another weakness in Jake is that he gets his sense of worth and accomplishment from those around him. It’s hard to call him a quitter in this movie, but there are times when the only reason he “gets up and tries again” is because of others.

In the opening boxing match, Jake is knocked down, and it appears he wants to stay down for the count. He sees a friend, though, that stands to lose a lot of money, so he gets up and wins the bout. After entering Annapolis, he faces some hardships and decides not to return after the Christmas break. It is the encouragement of others that gets him back. The encouragement he receives is great, but leaders can’t rely on getting their sense of worth from other people.

Jake’s friends throw him a going away party, the night before his induction. They show him a woman sitting by herself in the corner, and tell him she’s an escort they hired for the evening. When he and Ali (Jordana Brewster) introduce themselves, he finds out the escort story was just a joke. A short time later, Jake finds out Ali is one of his instructors at Annapolis. There are a few other sexual comments, women at the bar in short skirts, one man seen in his underwear from behind, and a couple kisses between Ali and Jake, but this is the extent of the sexual content.

There is a constant animosity between Jake and Lieutenant Cole (Tyrese Gibson). Cole is extra hard on Jake. The trailer says Cole is being so difficult because he believes he can make an officer out of Jake, but the movie itself suggests that if Cole can make Jake quit, he wasn’t worthy of being an officer. The conclusion to this antagonism results in a boxing match between the two at the end of the movie.

There are several boxing scenes that some will not enjoy. For the most part they aren’t very graphic, though there are a few hard blows and a couple of times some blood is shown. Jake also punches out a senior officer—once in the back of the head in the ring and once when not boxing. In addition to the violence, there are also about 30 obscenities and 5 misuses of God’s name.

The acting quality wasn’t the best, but was still very good. There were some parts that weren’t consistent with reality. For instance, a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship like that between Jake and Ali wouldn’t be allowed between an Annapolis student and his teacher.

The best parts of the movie for me, however, were the indirect lessons on what it takes to be a good father. Several scenes showed what kind of impact we have (positive and negative) when we encourage our sons or ignore them. In one instance, it drove a character to attempt suicide. In another, Jake’s dad lets his son know how important he is to him by attending his final boxing match.

Those who enjoy patriotic, hero stories will probably appreciate this movie. I sure did.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Negative—Cliched and tired. If you’ve seen Top Gun, Cadence, or Rocky, then you’ve pretty much seen this film. It doesn’t offer much insight into what it is like at Naval Academy…
My Ratings: Better than Average / 1
—Adam Renkovish, age 23
Positive—My wife and I have waited for quite awhile for the release of “Annapolis”. Our son is currently at the Academy, so this movie piqued our curiosity. We had read all of the stories about how the Academy wouldn’t let the production company film at the Yard because of inaccuracies, so they had to film in Philadelphia. As a result, we went into the movie with relatively low expectations. I must say, however, that we both really enjoyed the show. Some people have compared it to “Officer and a Gentleman”, but I think it was much better. At least you can sit there with your teenage daughter and not be embarrassed by the sex scenes and language. The movie did a great job of developing the characters, it built to a solid climax, and it had a satisfying ending. We left the theater feeling good.

Were there flaws in the accuracy of the presentation of Academy life? Yes, but the movie wasn’t supposed to be a documentary on the Naval Academy. It is too bad that USNA was not able to work with the film company. I think the movie would have been a great public relations vehicle for the Navy, much like “Top Gun”. As it is, it will probably still serve that function to a certain extent.

From a Christian perspective, there isn’t much that I can add that wasn’t already mentioned in the excellent review by Bob Rossiter. The one addition I might make, however, is that the character Jake was definitely an unlikely candidate for the Academy. It reminds me that God often takes such people and helps them to succeed for His glory. As a side note, my son watched “Annapolis” with several other midshipmen this weekend, and they all unanimously liked the movie.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—OWF, age 51
Neutral—Annapolis is the story of a young man named Jake Huard (James Franco of “Spider-Man” 1 and 2 and “Tristan and Isolde”) who lives with his father working at the shipyards in Maryland, building Navy Ships. Before his mother died when he was a child, he told her that he would go to Annapolis and “do something with his life.” Struggling with a bad relationship with his father and a being below amateur boxer, he finally gets his acceptance papers to go into the Academy. When he arrives to Annapolis he is greeted by a Lt Cole (Tyrese Gibson of “The Fast and the Furious 2”) who is destined on making the new inductees, officers and good ones at that. He has a take no bull personality and believes that his job is to help his country. Jake however is the student with a bad past and a bad attitude toward authority and people who tell him to do something he does not want to do. His personality is not really a rebellious one, but when faced with someone yelling at him, he starts to feel insecure and overpowered, therefore he lashes out. Yes, he probably needs a therapist.

Jake is more like a rebel with a good heart. Cole, however, does not believe that a rebel with a good heart is good enough. He believes that Jake’s desire to do thing his own way and alone can be detrimental to the whole team, therefore he pushes him and pushes him to do his best. Thrown in the mix is another Lt who is played by Jordana Brewster who really should not have been in the movie at all. Her role is actually quite embarrassing to watch, and we are actually really supposed to believe that she is a DI (Drill Instructor) and boxing coach. The movie finally has a climactic ending involving a boxing match between Lt Cole and Jake Huard. Two notable roles include Donnie Walberg (Yes, Mark Walberg’s brother) who plays the Commander. Donnie is one of the best parts of the movie and should have taken over Jordana’s role as the boxing instructor. Also Kenan Thompson (Fat Albert) who plays the role of Jake’s roommate.

Many people will not know this and probably never figure this out and unless you are a HUGE fan of classic movies, but this is a remake of another movie starring Jimmy Stewart called “Navy Blue and Gold” that follows the same storyline but with better writing. Navy Blue and Gold was a movie made to boost the military morale during the WWII and actually did an excellent job making our country and military look great. Annapolis was actually a refreshing treat in one way. Annapolis was the complete contradiction to “Jarhead” which made people want to run away from the military, but instead painted a very patriotic view of the Navy and Marine Corp. In today’s movie industry, it is very cool and popular to portray the American military leadership as a bunch of egocentric Republicans that just want to kill people and fight for oil or for selfish gain. However, this movie says, hey its actually cool to serve your country, and it’s actually good to respect authority. For that reason, I can recommend this movie to most teens and above. Annapolis had a good message and great morals, both of which were well delivered.

…however I cannot give it raving reviews, because there were just too much bad acting by Jordana Brewster what was just completely miscast in the role and Tyrese Gibson over acted though half the movie and seemed more concerned with giving a mean face than delivering his message. Both acting jobs were more the fault of the director than the actors really, so to their credit, I will just say the directing was to blame. There is one scene in the movie that is taken right out of Top Gun and should have stayed with Top Gun. The infamous scene where Tom Cruise goes to the bar and tries to pick up Kelly McGillis only to find out that she is his instructor at his upcoming Flight School. As you see in the previews, the exact same scene is replayed in Annapolis and falls flat. Like I said before, the role of the love interest was completely out of character and you find yourself saying 'oh good grief, that would never happen' too often.

If you saw the previews, you will see 3 scenes that are actually NOT in the movie. 2 of which I believe are CRUCIAL to understanding the character and motivating behind both of the leads. I have to blame editing on taking these scenes out. The first and most important scene that is not in the movie, is the part why Cole is talking to Jordana Brewster. She is asking him why he is pushing Jake so hard. Cole responds by telling her that he believes that Jake is a lot like him and he wants to make him a great leader. This scene is really important and it is a shame that they left it out of the movie. The second scene is showing more of what appears to be abuse from Cole pushing Jake in a water tank, they completely re-wrote the scene and missed the message again. Lastly, they took out a scene which I am thankful for because it would not have fit, and it would have not been appropriate. There is a sex scene you see in the previews that DOES NOT OCCUR in the movie. That was smart editing because it would have taken away from the message.

Warning to Parents: There are quite a bit of God D***s in the movie and a few remarks that are inappropriate, but I think the rating is right on. The movie is actually one I would probably want my kids to see because it finally shows America in a good light, and there are a lot of strong morals in the movie. The movie deals with respecting authority, a father and son bonding, righteous love and loving your country. I give this movie 2½ of 4 stars for being a badly made good movie.
My Ratings: Average / 2
—John Kehrli, age 31
Positive—My husband and I saw the movie and enjoyed it. Our son attends the Naval Academy, so we knew what to expect as far as how hard it is to be selected to go there and how hard they have to work to stay there. The movie is about a student that is a boxer and all the hardships he has to go through to make it thru his first year. It would be o.k. for high school age students.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Janice Fordham, age 51
Negative—This movie had plot holes and cheese all the way through it. The film makers didn’t do a good job at telling the story; there were huge gaps between the events, leaving one wondering why certain things happened. There were things that had absolutely no place in the movie. The film maker had to draw unrealistic connections between certain things in order for the film to make sense at all. Not to mention, it had way too much cheese in it. A little cheese can be good, but too much can give you gas. I most definitely had gas after I saw this movie. Do yourself a favor and wait until this movie comes on TBS and watch it for free.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 1
—Brandon Milan, age 21
Comments from young people
Positive—…Wow! I absolutely loved this movie!! There are very few cuss words and no sexual scenes or connotations. A must see movie!
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Emily, age 17