Cabin Boy ★★★

Watched as part of the March 2017 Letterboxd Scavenger Hunt
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#11: A movie one of your family members recommends to you that you haven't seen yet because you think it will be terrible

2017 movie viewings, #60. For 23 years now my brother has been telling me how hilarious this movie is, and I haven't believed him; so I thought this particular scavenger hunt task would be perfect for finally getting this notorious 1994 flop under my belt, meant as a starring vehicle for rising comedian Chris Elliott and that has garnered a considerable cult following, but that was a massive commercial failure at the box office which inspired David Letterman to make self-deprecatory jokes for literally decades about his involvement. (Both Elliott and writer/director Adam Resnick got their starts on Letterman's Late Night staff, and Letterman himself turned in a cameo here to help raise the movie's exposure, the only fictional acting role he ever did in his entire career.) And indeed, it's easy to see why this film has garnered a cult following, with the kind of cleverly stupid, imminently quotable jokes that make groups like Monty Python have such a long shelf life as well; but unfortunately there's too many jokes that fall flat squeezed in between the good ones, with a deliberately fake look to the proceedings that makes you get what they were aiming at but that hasn't aged well, and with most of the people involved mugging it up and playing things broadly for the back of the peanut gallery, when in fact this kind of absurd humor usually works best in a movie when the actors play it with a straight face. So all in all, a mixed bag, definitely worth your time if you're a fan of wacky comedies, but with no guarantee you'll necessarily like this even if you are.

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