A virtual (and unacknowledged) remake of the let’s-abuse-Richard-Gere drama An Officer and a Gentleman, Annapolis also contains sadomasochistic push-ups, an African-American nemesis who torments the main guy, a suicide attempt and a wrong-side-of-the-tracks hero who never says "quit" (he’s named Jake here, Zack in Officer). Love lifts Jake up where he belongs, where the eagles fly on a mountain high, but, despite the lack of originality in Annapolis, it is dandy entertainment.
With its compelling characters and clear conflicts, Annapolis turns familiarity into a virtue. We like the people, and we want to follow them where we’re pretty sure they’re going: Jake (moody James Franco, who has shed the Tina Turner/cockatoo haircut he sported in this month’s Tristan and Isolde) needs to prove to his unsupportive dad and himself that he can become a team player and succeed at the U.S. Naval Academy in Maryland. And he does that with the help of the required assortment of pals: Heavy Guy, Intense Guy, Ethnic Guy and Stunning Gal.
All the performers slide into their roles as gracefully as TV actors who’ve been on the same series for years, and the characters have a similar, lived-in friendliness – Tyrese Gibson even brings depth and humanity to the role of the guy who makes Jake do push-ups in the rain and skip meals.
As Jake busts his hump to get through his plebe (rookie) year at Annapolis, the film touches on a number of old-fashioned values – teamwork, perseverance, honor – to the accompaniment of a rousing, taste-the-victory musical score. It all works, right up to the finale when Jake picks up the girl and hauls her out of a factory as the workers cheer. (OK, that doesn’t really happen.)
—Chris Hewitt, KRT
© 2006, St. Paul Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minn.).
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
Annapolis is currently in theatres.