Anthony's Film Review
Cabin Boy (1994)
This comedy fails because the humor falls flat and enters strange territory...
Just from watching the first three scenes of Cabin Boy, I could already tell that this movie was going to suck. It's like meeting someone who leaves a bad first impression. You're not going to take that person seriously if he or she doesn't present any redeeming qualities. It's no different with movies. If the main character, or even the story, doesn't captivate you soon enough, chances are that you're better off walking out of the movie, and staying put would be a waste of time.
So here's the setup. The main character, a snobbish immature young man (or boy, if you want to call him that) named Nathaniel Mayweather, played by Chris Elliott, causes trouble at school. This is followed by Nathaniel's effort to get onto a luxury boat called the Queen Catherine headed for Hawaii so that he could come home to his father. Due to confusion in finding that boat (involving a cameo appearance by David Letterman), Nathaniel accidentally winds up on a fishing boat called the Filthy Whore that is run by four filthy sailors. The boat situation isn't funny because we, the audience, could see that Nathaniel will get on the wrong boat while the character himself finds out when it's too late.
From there, you got a series of jokes that aren't funny because they're just thrown at us without giving us any time to take the moment in. Plus, it's easy to stay one step ahead of the screenwriter who thinks the jokes will come out of nowhere. So if you've ever seen a comedy that is just underwhelming all the way through, you won't be surprised here. Cabin Boy is just that. Now, it's not to say it's totally boring, as I did somewhat like the scene where the boat goes into a storm in a region of the ocean called Hell's Bucket. Still, there could be more.
For me, the movie really took a nosedive by featuring situations outside of reality. I do realize that this is meant to be a fantasy comedy, not just a comedy, and I see nothing wrong with that mashup of genres. At the same time, when I saw scenes in Cabin Boy that include a half-man half-shark, an ice monster, and faces on storm clouds during the storm scene, all I could think was how those things felt somewhat out of place. It's as if there were no more ideas after the early scenes, so the movie had to resort to fantasy elements, just to pad the running time.
Aside from the climactic scene involving a giant monster (which I won't describe because the idea of it could potentially be funny for some people), Cabin Boy is a forgettable movie. I can't even describe it as a movie that has its moments, because there are just not enough good moments to remember. As for Chris Elliott, I won't go as far as to say that he isn't funny and can never be, but he nevertheless isn't all that funny here. Just like this movie as a whole.
For more information about Cabin Boy, visit the Internet Movie Database.