Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cabin Boy - 1994

"Cabin Boy" - 1994
Dir. by Adam Resnick - 1 hr. 20 min.

TV Trailer

by Clayton Hollifield

There has to be a reason why I liked this movie enough to buy it on DVD, but I'm having a difficult time remembering what that reason was.  I also don't remember when I got it, but it's been in my DVD library for quite a while.  I have watched this film at least a couple of times over the years, but not in a long time.  Thankfully, I can now put the DVD on my culling stack, soon to be available at a very reasonable price on eBay.

I'm honestly baffled as to why I have "Cabin Boy," it's not a very good movie.  It took me three sessions to work through this eighty-minute film (the first interrupted because my Blu-Ray player is being unreliable, the second interrupted because I fell asleep), and let me recommend that you do not view "Cabin Boy" on a big screen.  The DVD is a low-budget affair, firmly in line with the movie itself.  On a sixty-inch screen, you will see every bit of dirt and every scratch on the print that they digitized "Cabin Boy" from.  That's not to say there's a ton of gloss here, but on a more modestly-sized screen, these problems aren't as apparent.

Nor is it a very funny movie.  Chris Elliott can be very funny, but his character seems designed to be off-putting.  He plays a Fancy Lad, Nathanial Mayweather, who accidentally boards the wrong ship after graduating the Fancy Lad academy.  The set-up isn't bad, a fop accidentally boarding a fishing vessel dubbed "The Filthy Whore," but for the most part, there's just nothing there.  It feels like a sketch-comedy bit extended out as far as possible to reach feature-film length.  The fisherman aren't very funny; the actors are fine, but they don't have much to work with, and they don't really work well off of Elliott.  The only bits that were actually funny were the scenes between Nathanial and Trina (Melora Walters), and to a lesser extent, the scene between Nathanial and Calli (Ann Magnuson).  But the bulk of male-male interactions in "Cabin Boy" just don't work.  Part of that is that it's impossible to sympathize with Nathanial, between his condescension and deliberately irritating voice, and the other part is that none of the other characters (save for Andy Richter's) are anything beyond stock.  Stock characters aren't a kiss of death, but when the lead role is irritation and doesn't hold you're interest, all the flaws of the film are a bit more apparent.

So was there anything good here?  Andy Richter's mentally-slow character is pretty good, and David Letterman's cameo is decent as well.  There's an un-credited appearance by Alfred Molina, as well.  Beyond that, like I wrote before, most of what I laughed at was between Nathanial and Trina.  If that had been the focus of the film (instead of late act-two relief from a cinematic sausage-fest), it would have been much, much funnier.

I guess if I had to sum up "Cabin Boy" in one word, it would be "stupid."  And not a clever kind of stupid that is used to satirize something else (like "Beavis and Butt-Head," for instance), and not a train-wreck kind of stupid (like "Jackass"), either.  It's just dumb and aimless, missing both any characters to root for and any reason to care if any of them do anything at all.  Obviously, my virtue of my owning this film on DVD, I must not have always felt that way, but boy did it ever fall flat on this viewing.

1.5 / 5 - DVD

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