Cabin Boy: Chris Elliot's a Fancy Boy, Clearly

Cabin Boy: Chris Elliot's a Fancy Boy, Clearly

For whatever reason, Chris Elliot never caught on as a commodity. But as his recent re-emergence on television and a feature over at the A/V Club amply points out, the kitschy backwards gaze has finally caught on. While Elliot’s popularity might still be ironic and littered with mustachioed fans wearing tiny, liberal glasses, Cabin Boy, a film he starred in seventeen years ago, has retained a ridiculous luster regardless of who was paying attention.

After doing time on David Letterman’s writing staff – a person Elliot credits with broadening America’s comedic palette – and starring in an ill fated television show, the actor picked up this gig as a lily white aristocrat who finds himself stuck on a boat with a few unsavory characters. And Bill Murray’s brother.

The 1994 film begins as Elliot’s character, Nathaniel, wonders onto the wrong boat while he’s trying to get back to his father. Pretty bald by this point, despite make-up and hair’s best effort to refute genetic code, Nathaniel seems about a half step away from being dressed in matching sailor suites to some relative of his. Either way, Andy Richter, who plays a dullard named Kenny, lets the guy on the boat. He goes to sleep. And the next day finds himself in the middle of the ocean being cradled by the ship’s captain, who upon waking up immediately utters something about not needing the last drink he had last night.

Stuck out at sea, Nathaniel tries to make the best of things even as the ship’s meager crew makes that a bit difficult to do. No one wants him around and after getting in the way one too many times, there’s some contrived story about needing a look-out on a raft. Nathaniel gets on there, is given a few miles worth of rope and goes about floating around for nine days. Of course, he befriends a half shark, half man who saves his life and eventually the ship, but anyone could have guessed that, right?

There’s a bit of a love story tossed in for good measure – as well as a fit chick in a bathing suit. Apart from that brief foray into the commericial needs of the feature, there’re bits here and there which should seem a bit blue for general consumption – Letterman’s brief appearance being one of those times.

Either way, it’s not essential viewing, but Cabin Boy’s pretty amusing for a movie that was clearly cheaply made.