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In The Heart of the Sea: Don't Go On The Water


In the Heart of the Sea and more bad times on the high seas...

The movies have often shown us seafaring hardships that are even worse than a cruise-ship buffet that’s always running out of coconut shrimp.

In the Heart of the Sea is a thrilling adventure story by director Ron Howard about a fearsome battle in 1820 between a New England whaling ship and a very large adversary that was the inspiration for the whale in Moby-Dick. Chris Hemsworth leads a cast of actors who look wet, tired, and hungry at nearly every juncture in their characters’ ordeal. Then again, this shouldn’t be so much a surprise to viewers, given how much we’ve learned from movies about boat trips gone wrong. Here’s a handy guide that should keep you on dry land forevermore.

MOVIE: The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine, Red Buttons.

THE VOYAGE: Aging, scenery-chewing movie stars board the luxury ocean liner SS Poseidon bound for Athens. Spoiler alert: they don’t make it to port.

THE HARDSHIPS: Undersea earthquake and massive wave cause boat to flip during not-that-fun-looking New Year’s Eve party; overwrought death scenes ensue.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: Maureen McGovern’s performance of the theme song is enough to drive any survivor into the drink.

MOVIE: Titanic (1997)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet.

THE VOYAGE: Posh and poor passengers take their chances on maiden journey of ship they said God couldn’t sink, but God (a.k.a. James Cameron) sinks it anyway.

THE HARDSHIPS: Leaky steerage compartments, insufficient lifeboats, orchestra knows only one song and won’t stop playing it.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: Younger passengers always yelling about being king of the world when they’re not all that.

MOVIE: The Perfect Storm (2000)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly.

THE VOYAGE: A New England fishing boat named the Andrea Gail goes out for one more late-season haul despite ominous weather forecast.

THE HARDSHIPS: Extremely choppy waters throw sailors overboard, a humongous wave flips the boat, conditions so bad even the rescue helicopter needs a rescue.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: There’s plenty of fresh fish but no time to prepare sushi.

MOVIE: Dead Calm (1989)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: Nicole Kidman, Sam Neill.

THE VOYAGE: Nice Australians on a yachting vacation have an unfortunate encounter with a man on a sinking boat.

THE HARDSHIPS: Grand theft yacht, harpoon guns too hard to aim, sexual dynamics between couple and villain get way too complicated.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: Judging by this and Titanic, being on a boat brings out the worst in Billy Zane.

MOVIE: Under Siege (1992)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey.

THE VOYAGE: The battleship USS Missouri runs into some trouble with mercenaries on its final voyage.

THE HARDSHIPS: Violent mutiny, overabundance of gun-toting thugs, Playboy Playmate pops out of birthday cake too early.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: Seagal plays an ass-kicking navy cook but doesn’t wear a hairnet on his ponytail — just doesn’t seem sanitary.

MOVIE: Life of Pi (2012)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: Suraj Sharma, CGI friends.

THE VOYAGE: A young Indian man takes a journey on a Japanese freighter containing all of his family’s zoo animals — you know this can’t go well.

THE HARDSHIPS: Not much opportunity for conversation when you’re stuck in a lifeboat with an injured zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and a Bengal tiger. Also, there’s always something hungrier than you are.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: The meal options seem even worse once you learn that the animals are only animals because of how Pi tells the story.

MOVIE: Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: Sandra Bullock, Jason Patric, Willem Dafoe.

THE VOYAGE: A hot cop couple’s trip on a Caribbean cruise ship is ruined by a villainous hijacker who has no time for shuffleboard.

THE HARDSHIPS: Boat’s speed is too high, various areas of the ship are booby-trapped with explosives, Bullock is so high-strung about everything.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: Keanu Reeves’ early departure from the Speed franchise means no shots of Neo on a Jet Ski.

MOVIE: Boat Trip (2002)

THE STARS STUCK AT SEA: Cuba Gooding Jr., Vivica A. Fox, Roger Moore (!)

THE VOYAGE: Two hetero buddies end up on a cruise for gay men — hilarity fails to ensue.

THE HARDSHIPS: Ship so crowded with homosexual stereotypes that it’s hard to find a free deck chair.

THE BIGGEST REASON TO SKIP THE TRIP: At no point does anyone ask Gooding, “Is that your Oscar for Jerry Maguire in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

Jason Anderson writes about movies for Cinema Scope, FFWD, and the Toronto Star.