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"The Perfect Storm"

Directed by Wolfgang Petersen.
Written by William D. Wittliff.  Based on the book by Sebastian Junger. 
Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, William Fichtner and John C. Reilly.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  7/4/00 


Sonja "The Serb" Vincic and I went to check out "The Perfect Storm" Friday night at the local multiplex.  All I want to say is this:  we officially have our front-runner for best summer movie of 2000, displacing "Gladiator" in the process.  "The Perfect Storm" is a fucking good movie.  Yes, I said a fucking good movie!!  Wow, wow, wow.  I have found that it is rare that a major studio gets a based-on-a-true-story movie done just right; I haven't even read the book for this movie, but the movie was so good--in every way, from the acting to the plot to the fantastic subplots to its ending—that I need to pick up the book as soon as possible!

In case you don't know the story, in the fall of 1991 six Gloucester fishermen head off to sea in search of a big catch of fish to make up for a bad run of trips they have had to earn some extra cash.  Unfortunately, they pick the worst weekend of the century to go fishing, since two hurricanes collide off the New England coast and create a storm so large, so monstrous that one weatherman--salivating over the radar charts--dubs it "the perfect could live your whole lifetime and never see a storm like this one."  The Gloucester fishermen--who find themselves out of danger just east of the storm when it hits--decide that, fish in hand, they will try and weather the storm and go through it to make it home, since their fish will spoil if they wait out the storm and its very heavy winds.

But, there is so much more than that, and as an entire movie experience, this is one of the best I can think of in a while.  George Clooney plays the captain of the Andrea Gail (the movie prop is currently on sale on eBay...sad), the Gloucester boat that carries the men on their voyage, and he is great.  In fact, he is so good that he is unrecognizable as the bearded, divorced and bitter Billy Tyne, which is really showing you something about Clooney as an actor.  After shitbomb movies like "One Fine Day," "The Peacemaker" and--you know you can't forget it either--"Batman & Robin" (ugh, even as I think about that crap I am cringing in pain), he has rolled off some great ones:  "Out of Sight" (with Jennifer Lopez), "Three Kings" and "The Perfect Storm."  I never watched "ER" but from what I can tell, he seems to have lost that annoying neck twitch that he had in all of his earlier work.  The supporting cast of Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly, William Fichtner (a great actor--such a great range of support work!), Allen Payne, Michael Ironside (even in small doses his presence is phat), Karen Allen, and a whole bunch of other people that I am sure I am forgetting are just very, very good...and, director Wolfgang Petersen ("Das Boot" and "In the Line of Fire", amongst others) seems to be the reason for this.  Everyone seems to have the look of a fisherman; no real glamour shots of Clooney et al here.  And, I really got into hearing both Wahlberg and Clooney talk about how much they loved fishing.  You believed that they did...and, that is tough to do.  The non-disaster scenes kind of have a "Jaws" ring to them; the uncomfortable working relationship between shark hunters Roy Scheider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw was classic, and Petersen does a good job with his crew here.

Is there anything that Wahlberg can't do?  After a not-too-shabby rapping and underwear-modeling career, he's played a basketball-playing junkie ("The  Basketball Diaries", not a bad rent), a psychopath ("Fear"), a porn star ("Boogie Nights"), a hit man ("The Big Hit"), and now a fisherman...the guy's range is amazing.  The acting and the special effects are the big winners here.

And what about those special effects?  The last third of the movie is basically all set on the water, as Clooney's boat tries to make its way back to Gloucester and a really intriguing subplot involving a Coast Guard helicopter takes place.  These effects were simply unbelievable.  I mean, for the first time in a very, very long time, I was sitting on the proverbial edge of my seat waiting to see if these guys were going to make it.  This, like last year's "Deep Blue Sea" to a much smaller degree than "The Perfect Storm", will make you stay out of the water for a while.  A few people have to die drowning in this movie, and the thought of treading water in the Atlantic Ocean with no one around and 40-to-50 foot waves slamming down on you (did I mention the shark factor?) scares the shit out of me, for one!  This is the kind of thing you think about when you are taking that cruise in the Caribbean.

I don't want to say more because I want you to see this film.  A great film all around...and, I would have to imagine the kind of film that gets a bunch of Oscar nominations when the time comes.  Good stuff.

Rating:  Opening Weekend


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09