14 Things I Noticed Rewatching 'Pearl Harbor' As An Adult
When Michael Bay directed the big budget Pearl Harbor back in 2001, he had already made a name for himself as Hollywood's king of explosions, thanks to a string of impressive box office success: Bad Boys, The Rock, and Armageddon. So when audiences 14 years ago learned that Bay would be helming the feature-length adaptation of one of the worst attacks on American soil, they were probably expecting 183 minutes of non-stop action. Surprisingly, the attack on Pearl Harbor only actually takes up 40 of those 183 minutes, which is still plenty (in comparison, the grueling opening scene of Saving Private Ryan is only 20 minutes long) — but it also means there's over two hours worth of material in Pearl Harbor that you've probably forgotten by now.
Before I revisited the film as an adult, my foggy memory of those 143 extraneous minutes mostly revolved around Josh Hartnett's dreamy face. His Danny Walker was one of my first pop culture crushes, along with Leonardo DiCaprio's Jack Dawson; clearly I had a thing for doomed young heartthrobs in historical tragedies. Danny's star-crossed romance with Kate Beckinsale's Nurse Evelyn — which maybe also involved Ben Affleck in some way? I try to block that part out — gave my twelve-year-old self his first brush with heartbreak.
Pearl Harbor may not have the most sterling of reputations, but it's worth a second look now that we're all actual grown humans; not just for Dreamy Josh Hartnett™, but also for the surprising amount of humor, the cast full of famous people you probably didn't know yet when you were an acne-ridden preteen, and these other moments you probably forgot all about:
1. Kids These Days
Today, 12-year-olds tweet. In 1923, 12-year-olds stole their dad's crop dusters and took 'em for a joy ride.
2. This Movie Has The Best Supporting Cast
Seriously, check out Alec Baldwin as Major Doolittle. And Jon Voight as President Franklin Roosevelt:
And Michael Shannon!
And Cuba Gooding, Jr.!
3. Wait, Is Jennifer Garner Playing The Frumpy One??
Pearl Harbor came out four months before Alias premiered on ABC and would turn Garner into a sexy action heroine. And also one year before she and Affleck would fall in love on the set of Daredevil. (Too soon?)
4. This Movie Is Actually Pretty Funny
Before the attack even starts, screenwriter Randall Wallace actually gives us some good chuckles, including Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale's comically disastrous meet-cute. Michael Shannon's mechanic Gooz, William Lee Scott's playboy Billy, and Ewen Bremner's stuttering Red all provided plenty of comedic relief, too.
5. I Will Always Be Afraid Of Champagne Corks
Thanks, Ben Affleck.
6. Are We In Downton Abbey All Of A Sudden?
Where's Maggie Smith?
7. Holy Crap, Did They Just Kill Ben Affleck?
Yay, more screen time for dreamy Josh Hartnett!
8. "Parachute Fetish" Officially Becomes A Thing Circa May 2001
They just look so comfy, don't they?
9. Oh, Never Mind, Ben Affleck's Alive
Just one look: that's all it took for Ben Affleck to figure out that Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett were boning. That's some ace detective work right there.
10. And... Cue Explosions
This is still a Michael Bay movie, in case you forgot.
11. Wait, is that...?
I'm all like:
Why yes, as a matter of fact that is Warner Huntington III (aka actor Matthew Davis)!
12. It's Not A Michael Bay Production Without Copious Amounts Of Product Placement
Anyone thirsty for an ice cold bottle of... blood? Mmmm...
13. No, Not Dreamy Josh Hartnett!
I will never forgive you, Michael Bay. Between this and Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, you're dead to me.
14. Ugh, Of Course Ben Affleck Gets The Happy Ending
Although he would go on to make Gigli only two years later so, you know. Karma and all that.
Images: Buena Vista Pictures (19); Movieclips/YouTube