Lakeboat Review

All aboard the Seaway Queen, as actor-turned-director Joe Mantegna hustles a group of David Mamet regulars onto an enormous steel delivery ship plying the Great Lakes in order to read from one of Mamet's early plays, Lakeboat.

Despite the High Seas setting, the film takes the form of merely a series of conversations among various characters on the boat. Central to them is grad student Dale (Tony Mamet, David's brother), working the boat to earn money during the summer. Then there's an ornery captain (Charles Durning) and his number two (George Wendt). There's a strange fireman (Denis Leary) who stays below deck. There are horny guys (J.J. Johnston and Jack Wallace) who argue the merits of Steven Seagal and his toughness. There's also a lovable deckhand (Robert Forster) who teaches Dale a thing or two about life, love, and so on.

Mantegna, who's been skulking around with Mamet since anyone can remember, works with the Mamet dialogue cadence and the claustrophobia of the ship's confines with fair aplomb. Unfortunately, the script/play doesn't have any driving narrative to force you to keep watching. You can get up, go to the kitchen for a snack, come back 15 minutes later, and you really won't have missed anything except for a couple of jokes and some characters longing for their youth.

But the dialogue is crisp enough and the actors are so incredibly professional that they absolutely own their characters. Johnston and Wallace, especially when they're on screen together, steal the show.

Lakeboat is hardly the best tale to come out of Mamet's pen, but as with most of his work, it's hard to find much fault with it. Mamet knows people so well that you can forgive his lack of actual story once in awhile.


Facts and Figures

Run time: 98 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 13th April 2000

Distributed by: Oregon Trail Films

Reviews 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Fresh: 35 Rotten: 7

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew


Starring: as The Pierman, as Skippy, as The Fireman, as Joe Pitko