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MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Shipwrecked’ a Traditional Adventure

TIMES STAFF WRITER

“Shipwrecked” (citywide) is old-style Disney, a period high-seas adventure complete with pirates and buried treasure that Uncle Walt would have loved. It’s perfect for grammar-school kids, but unlike writer-director Nils Gaup’s Oscar-nominated “Pathfinder,” which also featured a youthful hero, it’s a bit of a yawn for adults (and doubtlessly most teens as well) who can easily guess what’s coming next.

Pleasant, dutiful 14-year-old Hakon Hakonsen (Stian Smestad) reluctantly signs on for a two-year stint as a ship’s boy in order to save the family homestead in Norway. He survives hazing by his hearty shipmates like the game lad that he is, striking up a friendship with the brotherly Jens (Trond Peter Stamso Munch), only a few years his senior, and winning the respect of one and all, especially his ship’s elderly captain (Kjell Stormoen), whose gruff manner hides a kindly grandfatherly concern for the boy.

Trouble must loom, of course, and it takes the baleful form of Merrick (Gabriel Byrne), a British naval officer who takes over command of the ship when it docks in London on its way to Australia and the South Seas. From frame one we’ve been tipped off that Merrick is not who he says he is; very swiftly, Hakon, Jens and Mary (Louisa Haigh), a pretty English stowaway, feel the menace of Merrick.

Nothing that happens thereafter is at all original, but this shouldn’t matter much to those young enough not to be overly exposed to pirate tales. Gaup keeps his adaptation of O.V. Falck-Ytter’s novel “Haakon Haakonsen,” a 19th-Century Scandinavian children’s classic, moving rapidly through beautiful locales in Norway, Fiji, England and Spain. As worthy as “Shipwrecked” (rated PG but G seems more like it) is, you may be tempted to let your offspring see it by themselves.

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‘Shipwrecked’

Stian Smestad: Hakon Hakonsen

Gabriel Byrne: Merrick

Louisa Haigh: Mary

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Trond Peter Stamso Munch: Jens

A Buena Vista release of Walt Disney Pictures presentation of a co-production between Filmkameratene A/S-Svensk Filmindustri. Director Nils Gaup. Producer John M. Jacobsen. Executive producer Nigel Wooll. Screenplay by Gaup, Bob Foss, Greg Dinner and Nick Thiel. Cinematographer Erling Thurmann-Andersen. Editor Niels Pagh-Andersen. Costumes Lotte Dandanell, Bente Winther-Larsen. Music Patrick Doyle. Production design Harald Egede-Nissen, Roger Cain. Art directors Per Mork, John Miles. Set decorators Dagfinn Kleppan, Jon Arvesen, Paul Delieu, Hroar Hesselberg. Sound Jan Jan Lindvik, Anders Larsson.

Running time: 1 hour, 32 minutes.

MPAA-rated PG (a mildly suggestive scene involving streetwalkers, some violence).

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