Captain Jack Armistead (Hoskins) has a vessel not deemed sea-worthy by the inspectors. Determined to prove them wrong, he assembles a motley crew and decides to recreate an 18th century voyage to the Arctic.
Some movies, however well-intentioned, are destined to bypass the multiplexes and head straight for the local video store. Within such a scenario, Captain Jack might have been easily ignored. On the big screen, however, despite the seasoned pen of writer Rosenthal and the endlessly watchable Hoskins, it falls resoundingly flat.
The eponymous hero (Hoskins) is a gruff Whitby seadog, blessed with an ailing vessel and an obsession - the achievements of his predecessor Captain Scoresby, who sailed from Whitby to the Arctic during the last century. With his own boat about to be dry-docked by an overzealous inspector (Patrick Malahide), Jack decides to have a crack at repeating the journey. He begins to assemble a crew that includes an Australian hiker (Peter McDonald), a witless local girl (Frost) and two feuding sisters (Massey and Jones). Of course, none of them know their port from their starboard but much more importantly they have the kind of wacky character foibles than that can only be ironed out by a dangerous voyage into unknown waters.
Unfortunately, just like Frost's acting, the result is ham-fisted and more than a little irritating. Everything is rushed, right down to the onboard romance between McDonald and Frost which goes straight from constant baiting to marriage thanks to one mind-blowing shag. Hoskins and the remaining crew of veteran TV actors give it all they've got, but ultimately their hard work goes to waste, simply because there are neither enough laughs or stunts to maintain the entertainment quotient. What the producers probably should have done is resisted their cinematic ambitions and bunged it on telly over Christmas, when a stomach full of turkey and too much sherry would have made it altogether more palatable.
Fewer wacky characters and a little more character development could have made this a better film; as it is, it'll leave you as cold as Jack's destination.