The mysterious and deadly "Hell's Bucket" is an obvious play on "The Bermuda Triangle". See more »
After fishing Trina out of the water and having his initial dialogue exchange with her, Nathanial summons the rest of the crew to meet her. Shortly after doing so, he refers to Trina by name despite Trina not having introduced herself to him in the previous scene. See more »
The DVD version (at least) omits the scene taking place right after Nathanial Mayweather makes a short, snide lecture on hats at the start of the film. In the scene, he proceeds to demonstrate how to tip a hat in a rather bizarre manner. See more »
When I was a freshman in high school, scared and nervous of the environment around me, I found solace in my year-long Television course, which was an introductory course in the forte of filmmaking and the behind-the-scenes techniques of Television shows. It was a break from the dreariness of perfunctory science, social studies, math, and English, and allowed me to interact with upperclassmen. I was one of two freshmen in the course, since most were thinking ahead to college by doing band or taking a foreign language. I remember telling my quirky Television teacher about my love for film, and how I was in the early stages of being an online film critic, before he hit me with a question I always remembered. "Have you seen Cabin Boy?," he asked. After I stated I hadn't even heard of it, he gasped and demanded, "you make time for Cabin Boy." He would demand that of me for the rest of the year in nearly every film-conversation we had.
This was four years ago, dear reader, and I'm ashamed to say I haven't made time for Cabin Boy until this past evening, to which my Television teacher would be appalled and disappointed, even more so when I say my reaction is one that isn't entirely positive. This is another one of those strange cult comedies that has mustered up a loyal, notable following after being a failure at the box office. Even after watching the film, I struggle to understand just why Buena Vista saw this idea reputable and reliable enough to funnel $10 million into the project, and likely another $5 million or so for marketing costs. Did they have faith in Chris Elliot and his commercially failing program Get a Life (this was before the cult-following for that film became largely known), or did they just want to broaden horizons? For whatever reason, it's pretty hilarious to think a solid amount of money was put behind a project I'm not even sure Elliot himself took seriously. The film is a cockamamie fantasy-comedy with Elliot portraying Nathaniel Mayweather, a snobby, self-centered manchild, who is invited by his father to sail to Hawaii aboard a large boat by the name of "Queen Catherine." Nathaniel has just become a "fancy lad" at his prep school, the highest honor, and believes no change in his elitist attitude will grant him fine wishes in the real world. After being kicked out of his limousine for being rude to the driver, Nathaniel makes a wrong turn into a small village, where he climbs aboard a boat called "The Filthy Whore" instead of his father's "Queen Catherine" and learns the boat will not be docking for at least three months. Nathaniel is stuck aboard a ship filled with foul-mouthed, unkempt pirates, and has no way of contacting his father or getting to Hawaii whatsoever.
Cabin Boy reminds me of a film, similar to Bio-Dome, in the regard that it plays like a film that would've been praised and hailed as a comedic masterwork if it were released in the early 1900's as a silent film. Being released in 1994, where expectations were far higher for film than they were in the 1900's, Cabin Boy found little appreciation initially. Speaking as someone who wants to try and give a fair and balanced review, I will say, the film clearly went through a director change, since it is noticeably scatterplotted and all over the place. According to reports, Tim Burton was originally supposed to assume the director's chair, but dropped down to producer, letting Adam Resnick take over, as he bought the idea for Ed Wood, which would later go on to be another cult success. Burton clearly could've related to the material much more than Resnick could've, making another film about a self-obsessed manchild in a surreal world with both Pee-Wee Herman films achieving great success. Even the backdrops of the film greatly resemble the artistic works of Burton himself, who would've also assure the film have some sort of commentary or overarching theme, small or large, rather than a cloying comedic emptiness to a film that would seemingly bear some internal meaning.
Having said that, one cannot fault Elliot for being a commanding comedic force throughout not only this film but his career. Elliot has always put himself in strange situations, acting as the surrealistic version of slapstick comedian Tom Green, and in Cabin Boy, he achieves success in just being fun to watch. His character, quick to insult and demean while being entirely oblivious, achieves some strong laughs, and the film returns to the building blocks of comedy, which concern a character doing something he doesn't want to do or being stuck in a situation he doesn't want to be in. Elliot is a tireless comic presence and, if nothing else, Cabin Boy brilliantly showcases that. Even James Gammon and David Letterman in a rare starring-role at times collectively match Elliot and his goofy ways.
The bottom line with the film is I didn't laugh as much as I marveled. The first thirty-five minutes proved funny, albeit a tad inconsistently, and the last forty or so proved for a nice surrealist adventure. However, the comedy of the film grows thin and inconsistent, the audience demographic for this picture is all over the place, occasionally treading on the randomness and innocence of a cartoon program to the more adult-oriented material that occurs when Melora Walters' busty character shows up on screen, and the entire event left me weary and somewhat mystified. Cabin Boy is a fine film for cult curiosity, but fails to muster anything but just that.
Starring: Chris Elliot, Andy Richter, Brion James, James Gammon, Melora Walters, David Letterman, and Alfred Molina. Directed by: Adam Resnick.
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