The Perfect Storm Movie Review
Cast & Crew
Director : Wolfgang Petersen
Screenwriter : William D. Wittliff
As it turns out, I'm starting to dislike movies about boats, too. They also make me seasick.
The Perfect Storm is a movie about a boat, the Andrea Gail, a swordfishing boat (or "swordboat" in that hip Gloucester, Mass. parlance) that sets out one fateful day, ending up smack dab in the worst storm that ever was.
Under the leadership of washed-up fisherman Billy Tyne (George Clooney), a gaggle of seamen aim to pull the motherlode out of the sea, despite the fact that the season is ending and that everyone on dry land warns them of impending bad weather. Never mind, these guys pour into the boat and head for deep water, with the likes of young Bobby Shatford (Mark Wahlberg), who must leave behind his girlfriend Christina (a haggard Diane Lane). Oddly, almost everyone in the film seems to be a divorced parent "just trying to get by."
As it turns out, the stupidest fishermen in the world live in Gloucester, Mass. (or at least that's how the movie portrays them), and when storms collide with the jet stream (narrated in an ill-advised weatherman subplot by Christopher McDonald) things get ugly. Trouble heats up when the ice machine breaks, and Billy and the boys have to decide what to do with their unexpectedly huge catch of fish, destined to make them all rich: Wait out the storm and let the catch spoil, or drive through a hurricane to get the cash.
I don't need to tell you they go for it. And when it rains, boy does it pour, with the chowderheads steaming up 100-foot waves and combating all manner of trouble to get back to port, all the while with Linda Greenlaw (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) raving at them to turn around like a shrieking sea hag and the single moms waiting it out at home. But greed is powerful, and they pay no heed to Linda. In the end, these are not heroes, they are men to be pitied. (Note that I intend no disrespect to these men, but the families who sold their rights allowing their portrayal as buffoons deserve to be ashamed. As a footnote, they've filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers.)
Other subplots like a capsized sailboat and an aborted Coast Guard rescue manage to fill up well over two hours of butt-numbing run time. For some reason, director Wolfgang Petersen to fill space with melodramatic exposition -- the guys don't even hit the water until 40 minutes have gone by.
After hours of listening to Hollywood's version of the Boston accent and bearing witness to Man vs. Nature played out to its terminus, you'll finally grow tired of what I must admit are some dazzling special effects. Twister looks like a sissy next to these waves. For good or for bad, they are truly nauseating -- just like being on the boat.
But effects don't get you very far if the story isn't there, and with The Perfect Storm, it ain't. Ultimately, this is a Very Special Hallmark production with big production values. Barely.
Maybe the funniest thing is a little plea in the press notes to this film begging us critics not to reveal the ending of the film. I won't tell you how it ends... I'm just glad it ended at all. Why do movies like this always take themselves so seriously?
Sheesh, a little rain never hurt anyone.
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