Weather Report's Joe Zawinul forms diverse new bandCaptain Ron
Directed by Thom Eberhardt.
Written by John Dwyer
and Thom Eberhardt.
Starring Kurt Russell
and Martin Short.
By Joshua Andresen
Thom Eberhardt's Captain Ron is an amusing film. It will not be nominated for the Academy Award for best picture, but Kurt Russell is funny as the title character. The humor does not redeem the film, however, because it is badly acted and aside from the humor, badly written.
Captain Ron spans a month in the life of the Harvey family. Martin Harvey (Martin Short) receives a sailboat from a deceased uncle. He gets excited because he remembers its grandeur from his youth. Martin's uncle got the boat from Clark Gable's estate, so Martin is doubly excited because it has been appraised at $250,000. He decides to drop everything and take his family "on an adventure" to sail the boat from the remote Caribbean Island where his uncle lived to Florida, where he plans to sell the boat to a yacht merchant.
Problems arise when Martin actually sees the boat, which has been rotting in dry dock for thirty years. He calls the yacht broker to ask whether the boat's condition is important. The yacht merchant, now aware of the state of affairs, retracts the professional he had originally set aside to sail the the ship to Florida and instead sends Captain Ron. Captain Ron is not the most qualified of sailors, land thus the fun begins.
The film's major conflict occurs between Martin and Captain Ron. Captain Ron works his way into the family unit as he helps them sail the boat back to Florida. Martin becomes jealous as Captain Ron wins the esteem of Martin's wife (Mary Kay Place) and children (Meadow Sisto and Benjamin Salisbury). Martin fires Captain Ron, but can't seem to get rid of him. Eventually Captain Ron realizes what has happened and creates a situation that allows Martin to regain the respect he has lost in the course of the movie. This is a mawkish story line and is very badly written. The turnaround is particularly clumsy in its suddenness and placement.
Captain Ron is genuinely funny, though. It relies primarily on the characterization of the Captain for its humor, rather than on sight gags or slapstick. In one scene, Captain Ron and Ben, Martin's grade school son, are playing Monopoly and Captain Ron tells Ben not to touch his beer. As Ben sheepishly explains he was just moving it, Captain Ron grunts and tells Ben that he should get his own beer if he wants one. The eccentricity of the Captain is purely delightful.
On the whole, the acting is far below par. Kurt Russell is hilarious, but Martin Short is disappointing and the supporting cast is awful. Some of the supporting cast's problems can be blamed on the writing; the characterizations of Martin's family are incredibly flat and often tiresome. But the acting did nothing to enlighten them either. The gestures, body positions, and deliveries of lines were clichd and unimpassioned. Don't look for any Academy Award nominations in acting here, either.
Overall, Captain Ron is an entertaining, comical movie that is not worth much otherwise. The amusing parts are truly funny, but what is left after the humor is badly done. Perhaps it would be best to wait for this movie to come to LSC.