I admit – it was a mistake to revisit The Long Good Friday before viewing the cheeky British export Captain Jack. I was whetting my appetite for Bob Hoskins, but in watching the 1980 crime classic, I ruined any hopes of enjoying the admittedly versatile thespian as a lovable, eccentric seaman consumed with honoring his idol, English mariner Captain Scoresby, who charted a course from Northern England to the Arctic in 1791. A man not given to following the rules, Jack Armistead defies ship inspectors who rule that his vessel isn't fit for seafaring, gathers a motley crew together and strikes out for the Arctic to honor his hero, Captain Scoresby.
Billed on the DVD case as a film "in the tradition of British comedies Waking Ned Devine and Tight Little Island," I'd argue to the marketing folks that those comparisons are aiming a little high – so much of what makes those Britcoms memorable is their understated whimsy; Captain Jack tends to play things a little too broad (Hoskins particularly) and while director Robert Young and screenwriter Jack Rosenthal attempt to imbue the proceedings with a little heft, it's to little effect.
As inconsequential ensemble pieces go, Captain Jack is a slight if mildly rewarding film that won't linger long in the memory but might easily help pass a rainy afternoon – just do yourself a favor and don't watch The Long Good Friday first.
Captain Jack sets sail on DVD with a PAL-to-NTSC transferred 1.33:1 image – soft and with slight ghosting in certain scenes, it's a passable transfer that doesn't really do justice to the evocative locations and cinematography.
Offered up in serviceable Dolby 2.0 stereo, Captain Jack is a film that would benefit greatly from a 5.1 remix, but the score, dialogue and ambient effects come through clearly, with minimal distortion and drop-out. The English accents get a bit thick at times, but unfortunately, no subtitles are included.
The only bonus material included are cast biographies.
Captain Jack is a low-key, quirky English comedy that yearns to be in the class of a Full Monty or The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain but is set adrift by hammy acting and a threadbare plot. Rent it .