(director: Ridley Scott; screenwriter: Todd Robinson/book by Felix Sutton; cinematographer: Hugh Johnson; editor: Gerry Hambling; music: Jeff Rona; cast: Jeff Bridges (Captain Christopher Sheldon), Scott Wolf (Chuck Gieg), Eric Michael Cole (Dean Preston), Balthazar Getty (Tod Johnston), Ethan Embry (Tracy Lapchick), David Lascher (Robert March), Jeremy Sisto (Frank), Ryan Phillippe (Gil Martin), John Savage (McCrea, Albatross Crewman / English Teacher), Caroline Goodall (Dr. Alice Sheldon); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Ridley Scott; Hollywood Pictures/A Buena Vista Picture; 1996)

Though lavishly produced and based on a true story, it still fails to satisfy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Ridley Scott(“Gladiator”/”American Gangster”) directs this true story about self-discovery. It’s a slow-moving film that tells of an ocean windstorm that sunk the Albatross, a brigantine vessel, in 1961, killing a majority of its unruly 13 teenage boy sailors going through the rite-of-passage to become men. It plays out as a modest coming-of-age drama, as the boy sailors spent a year under the tutelage of the stern school-ship Captain Sheldon (Jeff Bridges), who gave them tough love while sailing around the Caribbean. Scott Wolf is the narrator survivor. He tells us about the hunky but troubled teens on this ill-fated sea voyage, who all have big issues with their families and society. The teens are at their best trying to figure out which tight fitting T shirt to wear while sailing. Though lavishly produced and based on a true story, it still fails to satisfy and the teen interactions seem forced. Writer Todd Robinson listlessly adapted it from the book by Felix Sutton. It’s kept as undemanding Oprah-like inspirational entertainment, that turns into a disaster movie with the storm. At least it lets a landlubber like me know what is a “white squall”–a sudden and violent windstorm at sea which is not accompanied by the black clouds generally characteristic of a squall.

White Squall Poster