Since 1906, boaters from all corners of the globe have gathered to compete in the Transpacific Yacht Race, a two-week-long sailing competition that extends across more than 2,000 miles of open ocean, starting in Los Angeles and ending in Honolulu. In 2007, Roy Disney and a team of expert trainers sponsored a hand-picked crew of young sailors - ages 18 to 23 - to compete in the event (indeed, it was the youngest team in the history of the race). Named after the 52-foot boat on which they sailed, "Morning Light" is a documentary account of both the preparation for that race and the race itself.
The movie spends much of the first half focusing on the grueling training the youngsters underwent as part of the process of whittling down the group of 15 hopefuls to a final crew of just 11.
Directed by Mark Monroe, "Morning Light" is a wholesome, upbeat, fast-paced documentary with razor-sharp editing (by Monroe and Paul Crowder) that really gets the adrenaline pumping, and cinematography (by Josef Nalevansky) that truly makes you feel like you're a part of the action. Through interviews, we get to know a little about the youngsters themselves, what motivates them, what excites them about sailing, and what it means to them personally to make - and, indeed in some cases, to not make - the final cut.
With its inspirational, shoot-for-the-stars pop-rock soundtrack, MTV-style editing techniques and "Real World" communal setup (albeit a squeaky-clean one), the movie is clearly aimed at a younger audience. And there are times when the movie does feel a little too "Disneyfied" for its own good (did none of these young adults ever once swear?). But folks of any age will be able to thrill to this film, provided they have a spirit of adventure - armchair variety or not.