Combustible Celluloid
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With: Charles Durning, Peter Falk, Denis Leary, Robert Forster, J.J. Johnston, Tony Mamet, Jack Wallace, George Wendt, Andy Garcia, Roberta Angelica, Diane Fabian, Lori Gordon, Steven Grayhm, Jason Jazrawy, Patrick Patterson, Saul Rubinek, Charles Seixas
Written by: David Mamet
Directed by: Joe Mantegna
MPAA Rating: R for strong language and some sexual content
Running Time: 98
Date: 04/13/2000

Lakeboat (2001)

3 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Actor Joe Mantegna (House of Games and The Godfather Part III) makes his directorial debut, bringing an early David Mamet play (1981) to the screen. Lakeboat seems to be loosely drawn from Mamet's own experiences about a Great Lakes freighter boat, and the casting of Mamet's younger brother Tony in the central role only backs up that idea. Tony plays Dale, a college kid who spends his summer getting some life lessons from the grizzled veterans aboard this boat that basically slowly criss-crosses the Great Lakes, never really going anywhere. The old-timers are played by an impressive cast: George Wendt, Charles Durning, Denis Leary, Peter Falk and J.J. Johnston, with cameos by Andy Garcia and Mantegna himself. But Oscar nominee Robert Forster (Jackie Brown) steals it all. As Joe Pitko, Forster develops a sentimental attachment to the young sailor, presumably reminding the older fellow of himself as a youth. Pitko ends up telling the best stories, revealing the most about his secret life, including the fact that he once wanted to be a dancer (can you imagine the ridicule if any of the others found out?). Surprisingly, Mantegna does not use the cramped quarters on the boat to suppress emotions, but somehow uses them to huge spatial advantage. It's a very strong debut and a fascinating picture.

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