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White Squall is Dead Poets on a boring boat


Directed by Ridley Scott.

Written by Todd Robinson.

Starring Jeff Bridges, Scott Wolf, and Balthazar Getty.

By Rob Wagner
Staff Reporter

This excrement should be called Dead Sailors Society. The story exactly parallels the story of Dead Poets Society, with a supposed common theme of self-discovery and learning. White Squall is completely predictable. A group of high-school aged teenagers decide to spend a year aboard a windjammer called the Albatross, on which they will sail half-way around the world and back. For their education, they will be taught by the crew, comprised of qualified teachers in high-school subjects. The ship's captain is Jeff Bridges, whose monotonous voice, we are to believe, inspires these youths.

Each kid has some sort of problem, from an over-bearing father to a fear of heights to being a moron. All of a sudden, once they are all together and sailing for awhile, everything becomes all right. The moron does well, and the acrophobic climbs to the top of the mast. Partly because a lot of them are indiscernible in appearance, and partly because they are just incredibly boring, I didn't care about any of the characters. We begin the film with the supposed main character, Chuck Gieg, but I honestly lost track of him, since he is the spitting image of another character.

The previews for the film advertise an action/adventure type of movie, emphasizing the storm action sequence as the bulk of the film and showing the boys hanging on for dear life. The previews also show a trial at the end, where Jeff Bridges is on trial for negligence; so, it's obvious that the ship goes down at some point. True, the movie has a good sea-action sequence when the ship is in the storm, but you need a lot more than that to make a decent action movie.

There is only one female character on the boat, the captain's wife, who also teaches a herd of courses to the boys. With a bunch of teenage guys running around half-naked, showing far more flesh and flapping buttocks than a Calvin Klein ad or that putrid film Powder, one has to wonder what sort of audience this movie is seeking. The previews seem to seek the traditional action/adventure audience, but I doubt they'll please more than the Man Boy Love Association faction of the audience with the amount of flesh they peddle. Plus, showing one of the boys running away from a prostitute really makes the intended audience questionable. It will probably end up like Top Dog, which wasn't good for any specific audience, and thus had absolutely no audience.

Plus, the trial scene is unbelievably predictable, and unbelievably reminiscent of Dead Poets Society. The boys all get together and support their captain. The dialogue of the prosecuting attorney is unbelievably stupid, so as to arouse sympathy for Bridges. The whole argument about whose responsibility it was for the ship, and whether there was a white squall or not, was completely stupid. They don't even explain what a white squall is. We are left to assume it is some sort of huge wave.

One strange detail about the film is that White Squall is a true story. They didn't say that it was "based" on a true story, they said it "was" a true story. It's impossible to imagine that a story this bad was actually true, but the story is as told by Chuck Veidel, one of the boys, who was about 17 at the time. So, it makes sense that he made the prosecutor's arguments sound mean and stupid. He probably thought they were, given his disposition to support his captain.

The film reminded me of the low-budget situation of Ed Wood's films, where a small-time production couldn't wait to get a star. In Wood's case, he found Bela Legosi, while for White Squall, they found Jeff Bridges. There were no other stars in this film, or any name or face I recognized, which led me to this impression, and no, I'm not counting Party of Five as worth anything.

White Squall is dissatisfying to its audience as an action/adventure type of movie because of its lack of action, and its peddling of the flesh of male minors. There is not enough else to make it any other type of film. There is certainly not enough character development or inner conflict to give the movie some focus. There is no love story. There are no real laughs. There are no real times where sensitive people in the audience will cry. In conclusion, this film is completely worthless.