There have been few movies as universally lambasted as 2003's Boat Trip. The only possible exception I can think of is Hitler's home movies. Like some bastard child who no one loved, Boat Trip sank like a stone at the box office and took a pummeling at the hands of critics and audiences alike. Of course, being the idiot savant that I am, I had to see what all the fuss was about. Boat Trip is now on DVD courtesy of Artisan Home Entertainment. Set sail for disaster.
Facts of the Case
Jerry (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) couldn't have a worse day if he tried. First he made a feeble attempt at asking his girlfriend, Felicia (Vivica A. Fox, Independence Day), to marry him. This was right before he vomited on her during a balloon ride. Shockingly, she said no and let Jerry know that A.) she's been cheating on him and B.) they're through. Dejected, Jerry spends six months sulking in his apartment staring at a picture of Felicia on his computer. While contemplating life (or maybe the absurdities of the screenplay), Jerry's best friend, Nick (Horatio Sanz, Saturday Night Live), decides that Jerry's life needs some spicing up. The two head down to a travel agent and book themselves on a cruise filled with cold liquor and hot women. However, because Nick offends the travel agent, they end up booked on a cruise for gay men and gay men only! Suddenly Jerry and Nick's plans of sex and surf turn into a homophobe's worst nightmare! Then something amazing happens—amongst the sausage and brats Jerry meets a beautiful woman (Roslyn Sanchez, Basic) and instantly falls in love. The catch? Jerry must pretend to be gay so she doesn't think he's one of those "horny straight guys" (which in reality he is). As Nick fends off the advances of a wealthy passenger (Roger "James Bond" Moore) and makes friends with a few gay poker players, both men learn that true meaning of the words to "I Will Survive."
I wouldn't think you'd be able to follow up something like Snow Dogs with something like Boat Trip, but here you go. In what must be one of the most baffling one-two movie punches in recent memory, Oscar winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. starred in two of the worst movies of 2002. Maybe if the filmmakers had combined the two themes—wackiness ensues in a gay Alaskan sled dog race—Cuba might have had something. Unfittingly, this wasn't the case. Instead, viewers were given Mr. Gooding, Jr. flailing around a gay cruise boat in a heterosexual panic. Even worse: he's got Horatio Sanz along for the ride in a comedy that appears to have been regurgitated by your friend and mine, 1987.
Boat Trip takes what may have been a promising theme (or a Three's Company episode) and mashes it into the ground with golf cleats. The film is so bad, so unbelievable in its execution, that you can't practically comprehend what's going on in front of you. The most glaring head scratcher is when Jerry and Nick make their initial boarding onto the cruise; how, exactly, does one not notice that they've just entered a gay cruise ship? As the two men waltz through the deck they spot men in leather, men in chains, men hand in hand, men kissing, men making passes at them, men in short shorts…you couldn't get any gayer if you were living inside Liberace's underpants! And yet the writers think that the audience will buy that these two clods haven't a clue, which shows they think their audience is just slightly more intelligent than granite.
From here things go from bad to worse. Cuba Gooding, Jr. can be adept at getting laughs, but not with this script. If I never see another movie where Cuba is fleeing down a hallway yelling at the top of his lungs…it'll be too soon. Horatio Sanz can be a funny guy on Saturday Night Live. This is not Saturday Night Live. This is a full-length motion picture, so Mr. Sanz had better start getting with the program. Sanz's bulky frame occupies the frame more often than needed, which translates into every scene. Roger Moore, a one time 007, hits a career low as a wealthy parasite looking to get it on with Sanz; in what may be one of the most disgusting scenes in cinema history, he licks a cocktail weenie to show his affections. I have officially banned any pork products in my home. As for the women, they're only around to either show off their breasts or huff and puff angrily at Jerry and Nick.
Boat Trip wants to have its cake and eat it too—the film simultaneously makes fun of homosexuals with stereotypes and mean jokes, yet pleads for tolerance. Only the most gifted of writers can poke fun of a man in a dress made to look like a peacock (Cuba!) and preach about the virtues of homosexuality. The writers on Boat Trip only know how to go for the gag, and even those need life preservers.
Boat Trip is presented in 1.77:1 anamorphic widescreen. Well I'll be a marlin's uncle! Finally Artisan decides to get on the 16x9 bandwagon! All in all this is a pretty good looking transfer, which is more than a film of this caliber deserves. The bright, tropical colors are all well rendered with solid black levels throughout. Though the image isn't always as crisp as it should be (some edge enhancement is present), generally speaking this is a good effort by Artisan. Now, if the studio would only be as kind to its catalog releases…
The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English. Like the video portions of the disc, the audio mix is better than expected. There are a few directional effects in the mix, though this is a very front heavy track that features surround sound whenever the music score or pop songs crop up. Otherwise, the mix is free of any excessive his or distortion. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles, as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix in English.
Because Artisan knew they had a turkey on their hands, their minute faith in the film shines through with the disc's menus. Once the DVD is popped into the player viewers are greeted by topless models sunbathing on a deck. Basically, you get boobs for boobs' sake. How tacky yet utterly appropriate for the movie. Dig a little deeper and you'll find a few extra features that are worth their weight in aluminum…
"Tanning Tips" Featurette: Yes, you too can tan like a pro! Learn the secrets of successful outdoor baking from a few Playboy playmates as they sit aboard a ship and show you how to fry! This includes rubbing suntan lotion all over their bodies and reading off cue cards. Honestly, I have no recollection of what was said in this feature. All of the sudden the ladies took their tops off and my brain turned to mush. An official Sundance Film Festival selection for "The Most Pointless Supplement Ever Produced."
"The Making of Boat Trip" Featurette: This featurette is a flaccid look at the making of the film. Part of this doc's gag is that Cuba is working out in a gym and a reporter is trying to "get the scoop" on his upcoming movie. There are some interviews with Gooding, Jr., Horatio Sanz (letting us know that "there's something for everybody in this movie"), Roger Moore, Roslyn Sanchez, Vivica A. Fox, and other members of the cast and crew. Blah.
Deleted Scenes and Outtakes: Included here are five deleted scenes presented in non-anamorphic widescreen, as well as some outtakes of the cast flubbing their lines. There's nothing worth watching, so let's just move along…
Trivia Track: One of those tracks that pops up production info, history about the film, and other nonsense that may relate to a certain scene. For instance, while Jerry is pining for his lost love and looking at her picture on his computer, the trivia track informs us that by the year 2000, nearly 1.4 million people were being stalked in America and that a growing number are on the internet. Nothing like injecting a little fear into your comedies, eh?
Finally there are some sneak peeks for other upcoming Artisan titles, including their big budget remake of the Marvel comic book The Punisher (2004) and the sequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights.
I will go against my better judgment and dispense with any Boat Trip/Titanic analogies. If you're in the mood for a comedy that not only ignores good taste but also pees on it from a distance, Boat Trip is for you.
Boat Trip is sinking fast and should not, I repeat not under any circumstances be rescued. Case dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
• "Tanning Tips" Featurette
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