Monday, January 4, 2010

A Decade of Dreck #20: Boat Trip

Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT's complete list, click here for more about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far.

Man, remember the 2000's? I sure hope you do (if you don't, allow me to point you in the direction of our retrospective series). It was the decade of the "Trip" movies, a trio of unrelated sex comedies scattered across the decade. There was 2000's Road Trip- an early opus of Hangover director Todd Philips, 2004's Euro Trip- a cult classic in the sense that nobody seems to like it as much as I do. Both of these movies have their respective audiences and followers, I cannot say the same for the little-seen, lesser-loved middle section of the "trilogy", 2003's Boat Trip.

By now Cuba Gooding Jr.'s post-Jerry Maguire is the stuff of Hollywood infamy. Do we really need to go over how he typifies the slump exhibited by many Academy Award winner's after receiving cinema's highest honor? Ever since his win for Best Supporting Actor in 1996 (holy shit, it's been that long?) Gooding Jr. has yet to find a role worthy of someone who's got an Oscar for an iconic performance. The best you can probably say about the guy's past fourteen years of work is "His two scenes in American Gangster were okay enough" and "Pearl Harbor made everyone look bad". But what better way to break out of the Oscar doldrums than a broad sex comedy directed by one of the producers of Golden Girls and the Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer? That's what people do, right?

Apparently not. Lord knows that after seven years of trying, doing something this stupid must have seemed like a stroke of genius of Gooding's part. I can't say I blame him for deciding to take on this project, nothing else had been working out that well for him so "Hey, fuck it!" seems downright admirable on a professional level. And I mean, hey the guy's been working consistently since and has remained a household name (for good or ill) without a big hit, so kudos to you, Cuba.

Boat Trip
has a plot as ridiculous as they come (but not in a good way, like say Hobo With A Shotgun). Gooding plays a nice guy who wants to propose to his longtime girlfriend (Vivica A. Fox in a thankless role that seems like it was conceived and written on the drive over to the filming location) but is too darn nice and bashful to do it without (literally) throwing up on her in a hot air balloon. This calamity in turn inspires Fox to reveal that she has been cheating on Gooding and is leaving him because he's boring or something like that; if you've seen one movie about a nice guy getting dumped by his bitchy caricature of a girlfriend you know exactly how this scene plays out (but chances are the girlfriend wasn't covered in vomit, on the other hand maybe she was). To get over his depression, he and his horndog best buddy (Horatio Sanz. Yup, him) opt to go on a singles cruise and tooooooootally get laid, like, all the time. However, at the travel agency they piss off their travel agent (Artie Lang) and he and his boyfriend (Will Ferrell?!) get their revenge by putting Gooding and Sanz on an all gay cruise.

Before we continue, take this opportunity to picture Artie Lang and Will Ferrell having sex.

On the cruise, the two encounter all sorts of walking, talking stereotypes and one tooooooootally hot chick (Roselyn Sanchez) who Gooding falls in love with because the plot requires him to. But get this: she toooooootally thinks he's gay! Ahhhh! There's also a Swedish sunbathing team (???) who Sanz strands on the boat after he shoots down their helicopter with a flare gun.

Somehow, I was actually disappointed by Boat Trip. Now, I know that you're probably thinking that since this is a feature about terrible, terrible movies that being disappointed by any of these things is kind of a stupid concept: we go in with full knowledge of how godawful it's going to be. I wasn't upset by how awful the movie is, it's plenty awful, the jokes are painfully unfunny and the script reads like something your roommate wrote for his first year drama class. What really upset is that I chose Boat Trip because I was hoping to find a horribly antiquated gay panic comedy with hateful caricatures of men who have sex with men. The gay characters are of course all ridiculous stereotypes, the kind that we're used to seeing in mainstream sex comedies but nothing we haven't seen before. Not that I'm a homosexist (that's a word, right?) or anything but I was hoping that this movie would be somehow more ignorant and homophobic than other sex comedies dealing with the gays, thereby giving me the viewer something especially loathsome. For the most part it wasn't (so that's a good thing I guess).

What let me down is that the film takes the typical route of movies like this by covering its tracks by having an ignorant character, Sanz's in this case, come to realize that homosexuals are people just like you and me and not some AIDS-infested sex fiend. I thought I had found the comedic Cruising, but it's really just every movie with a gay best friend ever made. The gay tertiary characters are all one-dimensional stock characters (including one that's clearly just a rip-off of of Agador from the Birdcage) but they're one-dimensional stock characters who are really alright guys, you know?

Something else that really bugged me was a supposed transformation that Sanz undergoes halfway through the story. After a couple games of Poker with some of his gay co-cruisers (loaded phrasing I know), Sanz comes to the aforementioned conclusion that just because a guy likes to hump other guys that doesn't make him any less of a man. Immediately following this, Sanz gets drunk and wakes up the next morning in the bed of one of his Poker buddies. After confronting Gooding about it, he decided that this is clearly a sign that he's gay. However, the man he thought he slept with reveals that nothing happened and they just passed out (like that one time with Will and Jack on Will and Grace). Upon hearing this, Sanz renounces his new found homosexuality and resumes sexually harassing (effectively somehow) the Swedish sunbathers. At least a movie like Saving Silverman had the stones to turn its flabby comic relief gay and keep him that way (and hook him up with R. Lee Ermey for no reason whatsoever).

If there's anything good to say about this movie it's the use of Roger Moore. He turns up in this movie as a wealthy gay British playboy on the cruise who apparently is a chubby chaser because he is dead set on raking Sanz's moon. It turns out later that Moore is also a highly decorated British special forces officer as well ("Gay-mes Bond"?). I say that I liked this part because it confirmed what I've known since I was a little kid, Roger Moore's Bond was a terrible Bond but an absolutely hilarious cheeky English gentleman with no relation to Ian Fleming's character. He's basically playing Bond verbatim (he's better here than he was in Octopussy, that's for sure), puns, double entendres, and all and I must say that I derived a good deal of enjoyment from that. Cuba Gooding Jr. should also get some props for playing appropriately over-the-top and absurd for a movie of this type: he knows this isn't an Oscar-worthy picture and refuses to let that fact distract him.

All in all, unless you're in the movie for a crappy, borderline regressive movie about gay panic on a boat (the title really should have been "Guytanic" as cameo appearance Richard Roundtree dubs the ship) this is one Trip you won't want to take. But you probably knew that coming in, didn't you?

Boat Trip is ranked #97 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 7% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.