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Review: Annapolis

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Annapolis offers former New Kid Donnie Wahlberg as a rugged Navy lieutenant, Jordana Brewster as a seen-it-all boxing instructor (!) and twenty-seven-year old James Franco as a callow Academy plebe. It’s a work of sheer beautiful badness, a veritable opera of unintentional humor.
    Franco plays Jake Huard, a kid from the wrong side of the Potomac who’s fulfilled his life’s dream of getting into the Naval Academy. Once there, though, he screws up in every conceivable way, quickly earning the enmity of a superior officer named Cole (Tyrese Gibson). He can save his hide by getting it together in the classroom, but what kind of movie would that be? No, Jake’s real redemption can only come via the Academy’s Brigade boxing championships, where he’s sure to square off against the reigning champ — you guessed it — Cole.
    As directed by Justin Lin, Annapolis really picks up a head of cheesy steam around the time Ali (Brewster) agrees to train Jake for the tournament. She’s given to shouting things like, “I’ve seen better footwork at Payless!”
    It won’t ruin any of the “surprises” Annapolis has in store to note that late in the movie there’s a tear-jerking hospital scene that could’ve come from Rocky II. A few minutes later a guy sitting near me shouted at the screen, “Eye of the tiger!” That’s Rocky III, actually, but you get the picture. — Kevin Canfield

Also This Week
If you’re in the mood for . . .

A fun postmodern adaptation of an obscure old book: Tristram Shandy. Michael Winterbottom’s making-of comedy cheerfully mocks actors’ narcissism, war re-enactors, and literary fetishism.

A controversial postmodern epic about slavery: Manderlay. Sadly, Lars Von Trier films make us seasick, but he is a genius and all, so maybe you should go see his ambiguous moral comedy about race.

Date DVD: Thumbsucker
On a DVD date, sometimes it’s best to play like Goldilocks and pick something that’s arty but not too obscure, pop but not too obvious, and moving but not too maudlin. This tight little debut by music video director Mike Mills is just right: arty enough to please a snob, but not so pretentious that it avoids casting Keanu Reeves as a Zen-master dentist. In Mills’ adaptation of the Walter Kirn novel, the soulfully pallid Lou Pucci dominates the film with blank stares (before Ritalin) and angsty intensity (after Ritalin) as a confused teenager in suburbia who can’t let go of his thumb — and can’t figure out why everyone else is such an asshole. Yes, it’s another coming-of-age tale, but the great details and terrific soundtrack make this one feel utterly original. Thankfully, Mills is smart enough to film it all with stark whites and greys, to make a debate team seem like a hellish gang and to score wry laughs whenever the sentiment creeps in. Stir in a painful little romance, a hysterically self-aware turn by Neo and one of the most romantic finales of any movie in years, and it’s hard to imagine any date wouldn’t find something to love. — Logan Hill

   

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