FilmWorks // 2011 // 94 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // July 31st, 2011
It takes courage to sail an ocean of change.
Who's doing that sailing? A young girl named Justice, which at first sounds like a simplistic character name, considering this movie is about social justice and all, but the young actor who's playing her is actually named Justice so we'll let it slide this time.
Justice and her goofy dad move to the Bahamas, a transition that Justice, for some reason, is completely against. Dad scored a lucrative job working at a sailing club, but before the two can settle into their new cushy lifestyle a problem emerges: the club is full of racists! And since Justice is part African-American, this doesn't sit well with the old white guys who run the place and begin a sustained campaign of dirty looks and furrowed brows.
To combat this rampant prejudice and hateful bigotry Justice does what most people in her position would do: sail! She takes lessons from a cute boy at a club, absorbs the glory of the open sea and eventually enters a sailing regatta, much to the consternation of her cowed father and the chagrin of the club owners. But she will show all the doubters and haters that it doesn't matter what's on the outside, but rather what's on the inside!
And if that simplistic moral lesson sounds like something lifted straight from an episode of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, then you've pretty much nailed the degree of social commentary that Wind Jammers is after. It is not a sophisticated movie by any means and usually I'm not someone who craves an in-depth moralizing in my films -- in fact, I often recoil at such blatant proselytizing -- but the manner in which the racism is manifested is laughable.
Essentially, the perpetrators of the prejudice are buffoons, cartoonish villains that are ridiculous with their overt racist comments and Looney Tunes sneers. While I'm sure there are still morons this blatant in their demagoguery out there, I would think that most racism is insidious and below the surface. Perhaps if these villains were a bit more believable then Justice's crusade would have some emotional heft behind it. As it stands, it's drama of the thinnest order. I can hear their internal monologue now: "Hey now, that young mocha-skinned girl is actually a functional human being with a sense of right and wrong! Maybe I've been wrong in my assessment of race relations all this time!"
Scattered amidst this rambling tomfoolery are training montages (taught by a salty old sea dog no less!), an inert romantic subplot and some lukewarm sailing scenes. The total: a well-meaning, family-friendly tale that ultimately sinks under the own weight of its wafer-thin writing and over-reliance on tired clichés.
The disc: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, 5.1 surround, commentary, a small making-of featurette and a photo gallery.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 94 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Photo Gallery