Man, oh man, I hate those fancy lads!
December 5, 2018 12:59 PM   Subscribe

 
Cabin Boy is 25% utter garbage, 50% boring nonsense, and 25% genius. Most films lack that last 25%, so I say watch it.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:05 PM on December 5 [11 favorites]


I drove my friends to the only place it was playing. It was outside of town and we were about 10 minutes late. Nobody else had showed up for it so the theater didn't play it, and they refused to start it late.
posted by whuppy at 1:09 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Cabin Boy is 25% utter garbage, 50% boring nonsense, and 25% genius.

Heck, I'd even say that 50% of that 50% boring nonsense is a big part of what makes the 25% genius genius
posted by gusottertrout at 1:09 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


Don't go here. Find another crappy movie to turn into a status fetish. Chris Elliot is the hipster Joe Piscopo.
posted by Modest House at 1:12 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Strangely enough, I hung around in high school with some dudes who loved to quote this, primarily David Letterman's one genius line (with "fancy lads" replaced with whatever nerdy bullshit was on their mind that day).

I thought I would enjoy the movie because it was the kind of bizarro humor that was thin on the ground at the time, but at "Today, I am a Cabin Man," I bailed. I never forgot that scene, though, which is, as they say, something.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:14 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Don't go here. Find another crappy movie to turn into a status fetish. Chris Elliot is the hipster Joe Piscopo.

Ah, you must have seen Dead Heat too then!
posted by gusottertrout at 1:18 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


This movie sits alongside Ringmaster in my wife's "Why in God's name did I go see this?" file.
posted by The Card Cheat at 1:23 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


These pipes are clean!
posted by Catblack at 1:28 PM on December 5 [8 favorites]


Chris Elliot is the hipster Joe Piscopo.

Ooh, a new candidate for "wrongest comment of 2018."
posted by Chrysostom at 1:29 PM on December 5 [39 favorites]


Try the London broil!
posted by JohnFromGR at 1:31 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Watching Chris make Dave laugh on Late Night was pure joy.
posted by davebush at 1:31 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


Watching Chris make Dave laugh on Late Night was pure joy.

Yes, but part of the reason it worked is that Chris is best taken in small doses/exposures. An entire film with him is...well, yeah, it's Cabin Boy.
posted by nubs at 1:42 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Chris should have just stayed under the stairs.
posted by OHenryPacey at 1:43 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


I was just at a screening of Cabin Boy at the Indie Memphis Film Festival last month, with Chris Eliot and his family in attendance. The audience loved it, and the Q&A, led by Eliot's daughter Birdy, was hilarious.
posted by vibrotronica at 1:47 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Chris should have just stayed under the stairs.

I think Cameron was attempting to do for Elliot in The Abyss what Tarantino did for Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:54 PM on December 5 [4 favorites]


I just vaguely remember it because Ann Magnuson was in it which I thought was cool because I loved Bongwater. She’s now in Man in the High Castle.
That’s my Cabin Boy story which was about as interesting as the movie.
posted by misterpatrick at 1:59 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


"Cabin Boy" works better as a shared remembrance than as something you'd actually rewatch.

I love Chris Elliott, though.
posted by JamesBay at 2:03 PM on December 5


I'll always remember Elliot's first appearance on Letterman after "Cabin Boy" bombed - Dave leaned across the desk and asked smarmily, "so Chris, are you still in show business?"

I didn't have the best taste as a teenager, and was culturally stunted by growing up in the remote suburbs, but I loved Elliot on "Late Night", and in "Cabin Boy" and "Get a Life". He was pointing, if not always successfully, at a kind of comedy (absurdist, knowing, DIY-to-cruddy, and made by average, unattractive and sometimes plainly desperate people) that I would come to love, but hadn't yet really seen.

He's obviously since gone on to much more average fare, but Chris was there when I needed him - out there grasping for any kind of compelling entertainment, stuck in a basement a 30+ min. drive from anything even remotely interesting.

Also, "Cabin Boy" deserves to be remembered if only for being the big screen debut of the brilliant Andy Richter.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:04 PM on December 5 [6 favorites]


Cabin Boy is an absurdist masterpiece. I think most of the reasons people say they dislike it have to do with a dislike of the form, rather than the thing itself. To criticize the weak narrative, or that bizarre things keep happening for no reason is just.. it's like criticizing narrative fiction for having a plot ("I don't like it. Real life doesn't have a plot"). I'd put it in a category with Ruben and Ed and everything Noel Fielding has ever done, and, of course, it's of a piece with Get a Life.

It also has an amazing cast. It's sad but understandable given the reaction that the creators have largely disowned it.
posted by surlyben at 2:52 PM on December 5 [7 favorites]


For what it's worth, my take is that Elliott's schtick was kinda like that of Andy Kaufman, but coming at it from the other direction. If Kaufman confronted the audience with a routine that refused to signal whether there was any reason to be laughing by his unwavering seriousness of purpose, Elliott signaled everything was supposed to be funny, even though it wasn't in the ways it was sold. The humor he pushed was often cliched, recycled bits from the past, but dumped into absurdist situations or concepts, where it was played as funny, wasn't funny as played but became interesting, and to some of us, funny, for the conflict between the familiarity of the expected patter and the incongruity of the context.

It made fun of popular entertainment by acting like it or aping it but distorting it enough with his own invention to make it perverse sometimes mocking. His cultural references would be sometimes decades out of date, which itself could be funny for the notice and still serve the same ends of repetition. While the clumsiness of the routines made some common patterns of popular culture deeply uncomfortable at times by drawing attention to the routine as that leaving the words to hang in the ear uneasily as the "funny" is stripped away and only the inherent crudeness remained. Like Kaufman, Elliot's approach is both tied to its era but still seeming not quite of that time as it seemed to come as a response to something that was implicit but no one ever quite said.

Anyway, if anyone interested hasn't seen it, Elliott's HBO special FDR: A One Man Play and Action Family is on Youtube. (I think Get a Life is out there as well.) Action Family is actually the first half of the show, but I preferred the FDR myself.
posted by gusottertrout at 2:52 PM on December 5 [14 favorites]


Chris Elliot is the hipster Joe Piscopo.

Ooh, a new candidate for "wrongest comment of 2018."


I don't even know what it means.
posted by bongo_x at 3:16 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]


I haven't seen this movie, but I do appreciate Chris Elliot in Schitt's Creek.
posted by No Robots at 3:46 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Would'ya like to buy a Monkey?
posted by djseafood at 3:58 PM on December 5 [10 favorites]


No one wants Fishstick Kitties?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:05 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


I legit love this movie. I'm a huge Chris Elliott fan ("Daddy Dearest" is great, I highly recommend digging up a copy if you can find it), and though I came to it relatively late in life, I love it. MOAR CHRIS ELLIOTT MOVIES PLZ
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 4:09 PM on December 5 [2 favorites]


Cabin Boy: Easier to watch and more frequently on than Monkeybone

... heh....that mind worm should torture a few of you 'post-ironic creative-class' types...
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:31 PM on December 5


I love Chris Elliott, I liked this movie, and I loved Get a Life.
posted by chocolatetiara at 5:30 PM on December 5 [3 favorites]


What Chris Elliott does sounds better when described than when watched and is better when remembered than at the time it was experienced. I remember his faithful recreation of William Shatner's performance of "Rocket Man". If you've never seen it, I'll bet you are intrigued. I advise you to go with that, but maybe not watch it.

I saw "Cabin Boy" for the first time only a couple of months ago, so I may have to wait a few more years before I decide what I think of it.
posted by acrasis at 5:34 PM on December 5


Rev. Syung Myung Me: ""Daddy Dearest" is great, I highly recommend digging up a copy if you can find it"

Daddy's Boy. It's pretty good; The Guy Under the Sheets was less so.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:22 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


From the article: You might remember a few Januaries back there was a movie called Monster Trucks that was about literal monster trucks—but you probably don’t.

I do remember that! And it's one of those movies that I only knew from the trailer, waiting to see a movie that I really did want to see, and that I never would have made a point of watching, but if it did happen to come on sometime when I had nothing better to do I might have watched it just to see if it did anything really interesting with the premise. Cabin Boy roughly fit into that niche for me, and I never did see it, even though I liked Get a Life well enough to watch it more than once; when that show went off the air, I didn't miss it the way I did the original live action The Tick or Andy Richter's show or Special Unit 2, which I don't know if anyone else on the blue even remembers.

Chris Elliot is the hipster Joe Piscopo.

Ooh, a new candidate for "wrongest comment of 2018."


Yeahhhh. I may have decided that Chris Elliot was best in small doses, but he was great in small doses. I did see Dead Heat, and I'll never get that time back--it's not even bad enough to become a cult movie; it just goes on for a while and doesn't seem particularly interested in its own premise. Piscopo sure is jacked, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:34 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


Metafilter*: I don't even know what it means.

* Well, for me, after I see a snappy comment with lots of favorites.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:00 PM on December 5


Which Andy Richter show? Andy Richter Controls the Universe or Andy Barker, P.I.?
posted by Chrysostom at 7:52 PM on December 5


The first one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:10 PM on December 5


"I'm sailing! I'm a sailor! I sail!"
PCMAQS™
posted by carsonb at 11:06 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]


An earlier version of this piece misspelled Jack Lord.

Is that even possible?
posted by sjswitzer at 3:34 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


To properly appreciate Chris Elliot, one must first understand the state of televised humor circa 1990. It was ... dire. Recently, the podcast 99% Invisible did an episode on laugh tracks, and one comment seemed particularly insightful -- that the humor in 80s and 90s sitcoms was so broad and obvious, it would have seemed weird and creepy had there not been a laugh track. And that's about the size of it -- shows whose humor was so dumb and obvious, they had to use a laughter soundtrack because the audience would not create the laughter themselves.

Enter Get A Life. It was introduced during Fox's "weird period" along with shows like The Simpsons, in Living Color, and Herman's Head. They were throwing a bunch of random stuff at a wall to see what stuck. What you have to remember is that oddball humor didn't really have a place on TV at that time. Sure, there was the occasional Andy Kaufman who would come along, but for the most part, humor on TV wasn't actually funny, and only unintentionally weird. That's one of the reasons the Simpsons was such a big deal -- it was a funny show that was actually funny. I mean, these days we take oddball humor for granted. Hell, there's a popular sitcom right now that frequently references obscure philosophical tomes. This would have been unheard of in the 90s. I feel confident in saying that Chris Elliot was sort of like the Twin Peaks of televised humor -- an early hint of what was to come. When Get A Life came out, oddball nerds like me were just floored. It's like wow, this guy actually gets my sense of humor! Totally unexpected on early 90s TV.

As for Cabin Boy -- I mean, yeah, it's fucking weird. Campy as hell. Totally get why it's not your cup of tea. Personally, I love it, but then again I love all things Elliot. One thing I think we can all agree on, though, is how absolutely insane the movie they wanted to make would have been. Remember, Tim Burton was supposed to direct it, but he bailed at the last moment. Can you even imagine what that would have looked like? A Chris Elliot movie directed by Tim Burton? The mind positively reels.

"For what it's worth, my take is that Elliott's schtick was kinda like that of Andy Kaufman, but coming at it from the other direction."

You know, I think there's some truth to this. A few years back, Get A Life finally came out on DVD after years of legal wrangling. Some of the episodes (but not all of them) can be watched without the laugh track, and holy god is it surreal. I actually think the non-laughtracked episodes can be enjoyed as art pieces in their own right. Because Get A Life was already an oblique, off-kilter take on the half hour sitcom. However, the network suits never got that, so they made Elliot and Resnick cram it full of sitcom tropes. So it was already sort of weird and meta -- a parody of a half-hour sitcom that had to actually pretend to be a half hour sitcom. Now, you take away the laugh track, and you have all these moments where they crack a weird joke and pause for the laugh track -- only the laugh track isn't there. It is so deeply weird and surreal on so many levels, it's like a very strong ketamine trip.

Classic Chris Elliot.
posted by panama joe at 5:35 AM on December 6 [9 favorites]


Chris Elliot is the hipster Joe Piscopo.

Ooh, a new candidate for "wrongest comment of 2018."

I don't even know what it means.


It means someone's not watching Schitt's Creek.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:42 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


If Kaufman confronted the audience with a routine that refused to signal whether there was any reason to be laughing by his unwavering seriousness of purpose, Elliott signaled everything was supposed to be funny, even though it wasn't in the ways it was sold.

Somehow this seems like it was a very 90's approach to comedy—MST3K, Animaniacs, Letterman, Seinfeld to some degree—all of them seem to rely on the idea that anything can be funny—and maybe especially things that wouldn't otherwise be funny—if they can be placed in a frame that says "funny."

Anyway, there's definitely a short period in my life that's just marked "Chris Elliott."
posted by octobersurprise at 6:48 AM on December 6


An earlier version of this piece misspelled Jack Lord.

Is that even possible?


Maybe they wrote Jake Lloyd by accident?
posted by cottoncandybeard at 6:54 AM on December 6


Cabin Boy and Brain Candy were the two greatest 90s comedic movie dissapointments from my personal comedy gods.
posted by exparrot at 7:01 AM on December 6 [1 favorite]


It's a terrible movie and I hate myself for enjoying it.
posted by jscalzi at 7:07 AM on December 6


They misspelled it "Lorde" which ticked me off enough that I located his Hawaii Five-O title shot to send to them. Alas, the typo had already been rectified.

In other news, Jack Lord is damn handsome.
posted by whuppy at 7:32 AM on December 6


Went to see this in high school with friends. It's literally the only time I've ever left the theatre before the end of the movie.
posted by jenny76 at 7:46 AM on December 6


I loved Get a Life when it was actually airing. When Cabin Boy came out I couldn't find a single friend who'd go see it with me, and I was at the age where one is too shy to see movies alone, so I missed it. Then I went off to college, life, decades etc.

Now as an adult, I have a copy of Cabin Boy. I have for years. Never watched it once.

It's similar to how I can't re-watch Electric Dreams; I'm afraid of how it will fare with the passage of time. As an adult who constantly feels to be lacking in time, can I sacrifice time for a bad movie for the 25% genius? Or will I hit stop and switch to something else after the first 5 minutes of pain? And yeah my memories of Get a Life are that there will definitely be some pain.

I think even after this mefi post, I could only try watching this if I had an audience willing to watch it with me (and thus prevent the possibility of an early stop). But I don't think there's enough in this would that I could bribe Ms. nobeagle to watch this with me, and my circle of real world friends I regularly do stuff with is somewhat (read: absolutely) lacking.
posted by nobeagle at 12:05 PM on December 6 [1 favorite]


gusottertrout thanks so much for that comment. I love Chris Elliot, and I didn't quite understand why until you explained it. Yes. Exactly that.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:51 PM on December 6


Wait, Cabin Boy is a bad movie? But it's right next to Shakes the Clown on my shelf, and everyone knows that's the Citizen Kane of alcoholic clown flicks.
posted by jwest at 6:34 PM on December 6 [3 favorites]


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