30 January 2006 | george.schmidt
An Officer and A Gentleman Lite
ANNAPOLIS (2006) ** James Franco, Jordana Brewster, Tyrese Gibson, Donnie Wahlberg, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Roger Fan, Wilmer Calderon, Brian Goodman, Chi McBride, Charles Napier. (Dir: Justin Lin)
"An Officer and A Gentleman Lite"
Annaplolis, the renowned US Naval Academy, is the subject of the titular film about a working-class kid from the wrong side of the tracks whose dream to become a Navy officer is fulfilled when he is offered a chance at basic training.
The young man, Jake Huard (Franco) once was praised by his beloved late mother that one day he would attend the institution and become a man in the process. All the years of his backbreaking work with his contractor father Bill (Goodman) has him burning inside and expressing his frustrations by boxing at amateur bouts in town until one day he catches the eye of Lt.Cmdr. Burton (Wahlberg doing a mean Ed Harris imitation) who offers young Jake a shot at redemption.
Once there Jake learns the hard way that it won't be a cake-walk by any means with an attendee Marine instructor named Cole (Gibson, seemingly miscast) who makes things hell for the recruits as expected and his hear on hold when he is at first shot down in a civilian bar by Ali (silky Brewster looking like a latter- day Ali McGraw), who turns out to be one of his superiors as well on base (and a boxing instructor to boot too).
Along for the ride are the atypical stock characters - the know-it-all loudmouth Estrada (Calderon), the fat black kid Twins (Shannon) and the suck-up jerk Loo (Fan) - and quicker than you can say "An Officer and A Gentleman" - Huard looks like he may wash-out but on his extended leave at Christmas time he decides to tough it out and get his props by shooting for a shot at a heavyweight division bout with - that's right you guessed it - Cole!
If you can gather that this is pure Hollywood hokum formulaic military maverick wanting a chance to redeem himself than don't bother buying a ticket (or wait for the inevitable DVD rental). The film is on automatic from the get go yet Franco's charm and the easy on the eyes Brewster make the melodrama go down smoother than anticipated and there is some humor sprinkled in for good measure.
It's hard to believe this is director Lin's follow-up from his remarkable debut with the indie fave "Better Luck Tomorrow" but if you're gonna sell out it could be a lot worse.