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Boat Trip

  Boat Trip
Cuba Gooding Jr. laughs with Roselyn Sanchez, but inside he weeps for his fading career.

© 2003, Artisan
All Rights Reserved

After the love of his life (Vivica A. Fox) turns down his marriage proposal, Jerry (Cuba Gooding Jr.) falls into a depression he can't shake. At the insistence of his friend, Nick (Horatio Sanz, "Saturday Night Live"), the duo decides to go on a cruise to clear their heads. But when Nick offends the travel agent, the two men are booked on a gay singles cruise. Once the thick-headed pair realize what kind of boat they're on, it's too late to escape, and they must settle in for the ride of their lives, which, for Jerry, includes a dalliance with the ship's only onboard female (Roselyn Sanchez, "Rush Hour 2").

I guess the first question on people's minds about "Boat Trip" (IMDb listing) would be: Is it offensive? The basic plot alone is like nitroglycerin for the easily offended, but, while "Boat Trip" doesn't travel lightly on its subject, it does move carefully. The film is a silly exercise in hetero panic, and is not, for one frame of film, mean-spirited in any shape or form. The film wants to be funny, not hateful, and understands that trafficking in stereotypes can be dangerous business, so it picks its targets cautiously. There are a smattering of gay jokes that make you wince, but soon enough it's clearly established that the most sensible characters in the entire film are the homosexual ones, thus negating any call to arms.

But just because the picture isn't a hate crime doesn't make it hilarious either. The material is grounded in a somewhat dated concept (like the recent "Bringing Down the House"), and goes for obscenely broad laughs that makes "Will And Grace" read like a U.N. weapons inspector's checklist. Director Mort Nathan doesn't really understand the meaning of subtlety, and instructs most of his cast to enunciate carefully and gesticulate wildly. He even throws in a couple of semen gags just in case you didn't know this was a comedy. While there's nothing wrong with the slapsticky nature of "Boat Trip," most of the gags don't connect well enough, or at all, and the result is a picture that doesn't make much of an impression, even though it's working up a sweat to get your attention.

Nathan's tired handling is saved a little bit by the performance of Cuba Gooding Jr. Always committed no matter the quality of the script, Gooding single-handedly saves "Boat Trip" from certain doom by simply maintaining his energy, and believing in every flat joke he's forced to deliver. That's Gooding's gift, made all the more apparent in comparison to the grating comic turn from Horatio Sanz. Sanz, who gets his own romantic subplot with former Playmate, Victoria Silvstedt (here playing a Swedish sexbomb named Inga, following her work in the 2001 skiing comedy, "Out Cold," in which she played a Swedish sexbomb named Inga), can't assemble any laughs with his performance. He's reduced to obnoxiously yelling his objections to the cruise every chance he gets in what seems to be a bizarre homage to Jackie Gleason with a little Chris Farley thrown in for good measure.

"Boat Trip" is a mixed bag of pleasures, but I err on the side that most audiences will find it incredibly easy to skip. I can't argue with that.

Filmfodder Grade: D+

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