Touchstone and Beyond: A History of Disney’s “Annapolis”

‘School’s Out for the Summer’ concludes with a riveting tale of a student making his way through the first year of a prestigious school. This week James Franco tries to survive his Plebe year in Annapolis.

The Plot

Jake Huard is a directionless youth, who spends his days working at the shipyards with his dad. Wanting more than just riveting pieces of metal together, Jake applies to the Naval Academy, and after a visit from Lt. Hutton, Jake is accepted on short term notice.

At the academy Huard bonds with his fellow first years ‘Plebes’ as they all struggle to survive the harsh first year. Their instructor Cole is tough task master who shows no mercy. Cole’s insistence on strict discipline and authority rubs Huard the wrong way.

With the help of Ali, his fellow Plebes, and a determination for success, Jake throws himself into raising his grades and practicing for the boxing championship. If all goes well Jake will be able to face Cole in the championship round where the Plebe will have a chance to beat on his tyrant of a leader.

Jake is successful, and as he enters the ring to face off against Cole, where rank doesn’t matter, will he have the strength and ability to prove to Cole, the audience, and himself, that Jake Huard belongs in the Naval Academy? There is a lot riding on this match.

 

The Good

Tyrese Gibson as the tough talking, dominating Cole couldn’t have been better cast. Gibson has an aura of authority and the stare of a monster. He inhabits this role with a genuine spark of anger that is so needed to show the difference between Cole and Huard. I would gladly watch a sequel that featured Cole as the lead character.

Jordana Brewster gets a difficult task in the sort of girlfriend role for Huard. Unlike other films, Brewster is allowed to make this part unique. We don’t need Huard to save Ali or help her. In fact, it’s Ali who ensures Jake survives Plebe year. Ali is strong, confident, and doesn’t need Jake for anything. I liked seeing the role reversal, where without Ali, Jake doesn’t stand a chance.

The film is impressively shot with great visuals that helped to tell the story as much as the acting. Justin Lin who would go on to great acclaim for his Fast and the Furious movies is a talent and showed some of those early skills with Annapolis.

The Bad and the Ugly

James Franco is in every scene. If you are still bothered by the allegations against him and what he has admitted to, then this is a movie to skip.

The story of a Plebe trying to make it through the Naval Academy is nothing new. It’s been done countless times before, and this film uses many cliches to help fill the narrative gap.

Beyond the Film Facts

  • Gibson and Franco did not get along during the filming of the movie. Gibson explained in a 2007 interview that he never wanted to work with Franco again. The hostility between the two actors is obvious on screen, and in my opinion, makes the film so much better.
  • The Department of the Navy and Department of Defense offered no support for the film.
  • The government stated that the representation of the Naval Academy in the film is nowhere near close to reality of the actual institution. Service members were advised that if they attend the premiere or any event related to the film that they should do so out of uniform.
  • Since the Navy refused to support the film, shooting took place in Philadelphia at Girard College.
  • James Franco has little regard for this film. On an appearance with David Letterman in 2008, he called the movie horrible.
  • One of Huard’s roommates Twins, played by Vicellous Shannon, fails the obstacle course due to a time limit. In real life, there is no time limit for the obstacle course.
  • Chi McBride plays McNally, the boxing coach.
  • When the movie was released, it opened in the fourth spot with $7.7 million. The movie quickly faded into box office obscurity.

The Streamy Award

{The following four categories are based on a Film Reel scale.

1 Reel-Watch on your Smartphone, 2 Reels-Tablet Time, 3 Reels-Travel Entertainment, 4 Reels-Big Screen Event}

Annapolis is not breaking any new ground. The numerous cliches that riddle the film, show how this story has been done multiple times with a variety of actors. While critics lampooned the film for its faults, I was quite surprised with how much I liked Annapolis.

It’s not like the film will be remembered for its stellar script. However, amongst a slew of films that are forgotten, an occasional hidden gem with faults, will come through. If you are looking for an action-packed school-based story, then you have come to the right place.

Annapolis isn’t a perfect movie, but it gets a 3 Reels rating for its silliness, action packed story, and the ice-cold death stare of Tyrese Gibson. What more could anyone want.

Cast and Crew

  • James Franco as Jake Huard
  • Tyrese Gibson as Cole
  • Jordana Brewster as Ali
  • Donnie Wahlberg as Lt. Burton

Directed by Justin Lin

Produced by Touchstone Pictures / Mother B Productions

Release Date: January 27, 2006

Budget: $26 million

Box Office Gross

Domestic: $17,127,992

Worldwide Total: $17,496,992

Coming Soon

Next week, it's Shadow Conspiracy with Charlie Sheen. He plays the special assistant to the president and discovers a conspiracy within the ranks of the government.