If, 90 minutes in, we were holding out hope that Louis Gossett Jr. might kick Richard Gere’s sorry ass out of the Navy already, would An Officer and a Gentleman still have connected? Probably not. Basic-training dramas, a diverting genre, work because they ultimately pit right against right: It doesn’t seem quite fair that Gere has to do all those sit-ups, but then again, it’s the military and Gossett’s there to play tough. You respect both sides equally, if perhaps grudgingly, and eagerly pull up your seats for the tug-of-war.
Not so, alas, in Annapolis, a military drama that errs big by making its new recruit — a ship-builder named Jake Huard (James Franco) who goes from the wait list into the U.S. Naval Academy — too much the rebel. If you’re gonna make a movie about a maverick in a military-school setting, that movie better be Top Gun. Here, Huard’s rule breaking is more exasperating than exhilarating. Compellingly reserved and inscrutable at the start, Franco starts to lose us by the second hour, when his character’s still not showing up for roll call on time, and isn’t charismatic enough to bring us over to his side. Finally, when — not so far from the end credits — Huard blindsides his commanding officer, the stern-jawed Lieutenant Cole (Tyrese Gibson), for the second time, that’s when you start longing for Gossett to pop up and boot this kid out so we can all head home.
Annapolis manages to hit some nice basic-training movie beats. The best comes when a smiley CO played by Jordana Brewster orders Franco to ”Drop and give me 20!” — exactly what Kelly LeBrock barked at a bunch of dorks in the last scene of Weird Science. The male fantasy lives on.