Oddly, the film “The Perfect Storm” suffered from the same problems the book did, but one hundred times worse, making it The Perfect Schlock. Junger’s book is great when he’s not trying to sentimentalize the characters or situation. When it is straight-ahead reporting of the events, or the possible events as he reconstructed them, it works great. The best aspects of the book are the scientific explanations for such a bizarre storm, and the physiological and psychological responses of drowning. The Hollywoodized movie, however, not only eliminates the good aspects, but of course plays the melodrama to the hilt. It even fabricates melodrama, as if battling 100 foot waves hundreds of miles from shore wasn’t enough to hold our attention. No, we have to see contrived human conflict as well!
Now, I can understand them wanting to develop the characters so that we give a shit about them while they’re drowning. But the development was so heavy-handed, so formulaic, so self-conscious…they took basic stereotypes, derived roughly from the actual people, and just slapped on the paint-by-number details in neat little packages: the Loner Captain with Something to Prove, the Tough-Ass Mean Guy but with a Heart of Gold, the Divorced Father with a Young Puppy dog-eyed Son Whom he Misses So, the Rookie Who’s Girlfriend Doesn’t Want Him to Go, the Loser Who Can’t Get Laid, the Black Guy Who, well, conveniently there actual was a black guy on board so Hollywood didn’t have to supply their token. Their clichŽd characterization was an insult not only to the audience but also to the real people they were supposed to be portraying.
Anyway, they all ham it up out on the boat with really goofy dialogue. “I always find the fish!!” George Clooney defiantly yells to his wavering disciple, Markie Mark. And worse yet, Clooney delivers a monologue where he relates in the present tense second person the joys of sea-faring (with a wistful look in his eye, “You throw your rope offÉsteer her out past the dockÉ” or some such crap). Worse still, this monologue gets repeated later in voice-over! And it ends with Clooney really milking the whole thing: “and you thinkÉwhat’s better than being a swordfish captain?” Hmmm. That’s a tough one, George. How about being an obscenely over-priced movie star who gets millions to deliver hackneyed performances in front of a blue screen?? That’s probably a little better than being covered in fish guts and drowning, huh George? Give us a break, for chrissakes.
The only thing that could have saved this flick from the banal script and tired performances was the effectsÉbut they sucked the royal monkey schlong as well. Wolfgang very rarely gives us any long shots to put the whole thing in contextÉwe just see relative close-ups of the boat getting tossed around. You never really get a sense of just how big and awesome a force the storm was.
There were multiple other flaws, but I shall conclude simply: This movie sucks.