What intrigued me about this movie was the box’s mention of a search for pirate treasure in Lake Michigan. Careful viewers know that 1) Bilgemunky pities the Great Lakes for being sad little puddles of salt-water-envy, and 2) Bilgemunky lives right next to Lake Michigan. So I figured this might be an interesting premise for a non-ocean pirate adventure. That’s why I rented it – and that’s why I watched the first 20 minutes. I watched the other 72 simply for your benefit, dear reader. Lord knows I had better things to do with my time.
The plot could be decent enough. The basic idea is that hundreds of years ago a pirate buried a bunch of treasure in Lake Michigan. It was subsequently discovered by mobsters in the 1920s or so, but they had a shipwreck and had to abandon it – but they made a map. Now, Danny Quinn is obsessed with discovering said treasure, as his own father died searching for it. From there it’s all pretty basic fare: “oh no, Grandpa has tragically died in a deep-lake diving accident – yikes, the government wants to repossess the family schooner and send me to a foster home – hey, let’s go find the treasure and solve all our problems – oh no, it’s the one-eyed banshee!!!”
Yup, standard stuff.
I’d try to explain the plot in further detail, but I’m not sure the writer even fully understood it. If he did, perhaps he can write me and explain why a 200 year old pirate (who looks and talks like a very modern grocer) is sailing around Lake Michigan in a dinghy bistowing advice on children. Or how come a 1920’s psychotic mobster is stil manning a lighthouse not looking a day over 30. Or why we’re supposed to fear Doc Biehler, a villainous bully who pushes everyone around with all 92 pounds of his manly physique. And why does that same Doc’s wheelchair-bound wife turn out to be the One-Eyed Banshee that we hear so much about?
Some movies are difficult to follow because they’re deep and require great analysis. Others are difficult to follow because the creators made stuff up as they went along and followed no real rhyme or reason. Sawtooth Island clearly falls into this latter category. The entire effort, from the filming to the acting to the writing, was completely pedestrian. I always try to put the best face on a pirate project – if it’s lame for adults but great for kids, then I’ll review it from that perspective. If it’s bad but still manages to be fun, then I’ll tell you. But this movie has no value I can see. It’s clean – no foul language or raunchy NBC-style sex (indeed, the movie ends with the hero embracing the heroin in a very platonic hug), so it won’t give kids any bad ideas. But it won’t likely entertain them either.