Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The Cheap-Arse Film Review #4- "GOING OVERBOARD."








PRICE: 50p

Ah, Adam Sandler. If there were ever anyone you could rely on to divide a roomful of people, he's your man. He's like Jim Carrey turned up to 11, which is to say that some people think he's a genius and worship the ground he walks on, and others think he's everything that's wrong with modern mainstream American comedy and should be shot on-sight. Me? I'm a boring middle-of-the-road white guy, so I have a boring middle-of-the-road opinion- he's alright. He's done some stuff I like ("Happy Gilmore," Billy Madison," "50 First Dates,"), he's done some stuff I don't like ("Big Daddy," "Reign Over Me"), and in many ways I admire him a little bit more that I do Carrey, because whereas Jim seemed to just bUrst onto
cinema screens a fully-formed star, Sandler seemed to pay his dues a little more, playing second fiddle in the likes of "Airheads," and appearing in smaller flicks before he got the chance to become what he is today. Smaller flicks like this one.

I've been aware of this movie for years, it's a staple of every pound shop in existance. Everytime I ventured past the DVD racks, there it was staring back at me, that front cover art of a bare-chested Sandler shrugging and pulling a "WH-HUH?" face. I always knew that one day I'd end up watching it, but for some reason I could never bring
myself to buy it, partly because of my previously-discussed phobia of buying any movies from these shops, and partly because I always had the feeling that paying a pound would be paying too much. However, once I saw it for 50p, I could hold be the temptation no longer. Okay, let's do this. We were always going to eventually anyway, so let's finally do it.

Now, in my last post, I explained how I write my reviews, but for the people who didn't read that, it goes like this- I'll watch a movie, take a few notes, then I'll watch it again at the same time as I'm writing the review, so the flow of the piece feels like I'm commenting on things as they're happening. And that was the plan with this movie too.

Until I watched it.

I was expecting this to be your typical Adam Sandler movie, just on a smaller budget. There'd be some gross-out humour, some sentimentality, a love interest, some bizarre secondary characters, and he'd get to punch someone. And it'd take place on a boat, obviously. That's what I was expecting. What I got was one of the most utterly batshit insane movies I have ever, ever seen. Doing a linear review of this movie would be absolutely pointless, because I know for a fact that I'd get lost or forget something or not be able
to justice to just what the hell I'm seeing. So I'm not going to. I'm not even going to bother mentioning everything that happens, as I'd be here even longer than I know I'm going to be. Instead, I'm going to give you a taster, just a taster, of what this movie is like...

1. The opening credits. Yes, even the opening credits are going to get a mention. When I just boil them down to a one sentence description, they don't sound so strange- they appear as voice bubbles spoken by an animated Adam Sandler as he stands in front of a brick wall, as if doing a stand-up routine. However, calling this
"animation" might be giving it too much praise, as the only thing that really moves all that much is Sandler's head and face, and that doesn't so much move as morph and contort into a variety of grotesque positions and facial expressions. It's almost as if it's been done by one of those characiture artists that usually loiter around beaches and theme parks. It's disgusting and disturbing, but strangely I couldn't look away.

2. At the start of the film, Sandler's character, Schecky Moskowitz, breaks the forth wall and addresses the audience. He's basically the voice of the filmmakers- he explains a little bit of the plot, tells us that it's taking place on a boat full of hot women because they somehow have access to both, and then says that this is a no-budget movie, as opposed to a low-budget movie, and then demonstates this by doing some "Star Trek"
earthquake acting. The first time spoke to camera, my response was, "Um... okay." It was weird and out of left-field, but I accepted it, as it seemed like the writer had something she wanted to get out of the way before the movie began for real. But then he keeps doing it all the way through the entire movie! And it doesn't really serve any purpose in advancing the plot, it's just Schecky casually chit-chatting to the audience. I watched this the first time with my friend Winston, and the second Sandler started to talk into the camera, he complained that he hated all this self-referencial stuff, and that it'd been done to death by now. I was more forgiving, willing to let it slip by once, if for no other reason that Sandler's likeable enough to get away with it a couple of times, but by about fourty minutes in, I felt like screaming, "STOP DRAGGING ME OUT OF THIS MOVIE!"

3. The beautiful women are portrayed as beauty queens. I'm not 100% sure if they really are or not, although the fact that we see a pretty white woman with blonde hair and blue eyes wearing a sache that says "Jamaica" on it tells me they might not be. They too get to talk into the camera, by way of informal interviews that sometimes seem scripted, but sometimes seems like the director just asked them questions and then filmed their responses, documentary-style, like
where they see themselves being in 10 years. There is no real reason for these interludes to exist.

4. This one actually details a bit of plot, well, what little there is. Schecky's desire is to quit being a waiter on the boat and become it's comedian. Sadly, the boat already has a comedian, Dicie Diamond, played by Scott Larosa, a crude, hairy, sleazy man, whose comedy seems to consist berating his audience and making incest jokes, whereas Schecky's comedy tends to be more light-hearted and observational. This could be a decent starting point for some real conflict the audiene could get into, were it not for the fact that neither man is particularly funny. I mean, they're both written to not be that funny, but surely
if you're supposed to root for one over the other, one should show a little more talent, right? Also, Winston believes this was supposed to be a commentary on the popular comedy of the 80s, that the writer clearly hated the lewd, confrontational style that was popular at that time and was using this movie to comment on and judge it. I... think he's overthinking this.

4. A rock star, his girlfriend and his manager have a brief two minute scene talking about action figures. This serves no point to advance the plot, as Schecky himself admits in a to-the-camera aside.

5. Billy Zane plays Neptune, King Of The Sea, and appears to Schecky to boost his confidance after Dickie is believed to have died falling over the side of the boat (he hasn't, his hat blew overboard and he got trapped in a toilet. The guests and crew hold a funeral for him seemingly five minutes later). Even though I knew he was in this, as he's mentioned on the box, when he appeared, my reaction was still, "HOLY SHIT, IT'S BILLY ZANE! THE PHANTOM! AND HE HAS LONG HAIR!" And then the first thing he does is make a joke about the size of Sandler's nose. And the way he appears to Schecky is awesome- it's not presented in any way magically, he just climbs over the side of the boat and sneaks up on him whilst he's doing another direct-to-camera.

6. Billy Bob Thornton is in this movie, playing Bob, a construction worker who heckles Schecky during his first gig replacing Dickie. My reaction to seeing him was similar to seeing Zane ("HOLY SHIT, BAD SANTA'S IN THIS!") But this time I actually was slightly surprised, because even though I had been told he was in this, he's not mentioned on the box, and I had no proof other than the word of a few friends, who could easily have been messing with me. He looks amazingly young here, and even in a small role, he exudes charisma. He was obviously going to be a star.

7. Oh this one, this is the big one...

... at the start of the movie, we see a man looking over some videos. Porn videos, to be specific about it, with titles like "Blondes Perfer Cucumbers," and "Rub Me Raw," (NOTE: THIS MOVIE WAS WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY A WOMAN) before deciding to watch a video with Adam Sandler's gurning face on it. This was easily the most relatable part of the movie for me, I think I've probably made this very decision myself a couple of times. So, he puts the video in,
then the movie starts properly. As it's going on, we cut back to him seemingly watching the same movie we are. Okay, so this is going to be some kind of framing device, I thought. That's unusual, but so is everything about this movie, and I'm sure by the end it'll be explained. Well, I didn't have to wait until the end to find out what's going on- during one of the beauty queen interview segments, Miss Australia starts giving her opinion on General Noriega. Yes, that General Noriega, the man who was at the time the miliatry dictator of Panama. Her entire critique of him is that he probably smells like pizza and that girls don't like him because of it.

As she's saying this, the man watching removes his shoe, removes his sock, and then sniffs it. It is then revealed that the man watching this movie is, yes, you guessed it... General Noriega. Who promptly pauses the film, calls Miss Australia "A piece of Kangaroo vomit!" and then orders two white guys tanned up to look like they're from Panama, who are credited on INdB as "Terrorist Without Shirt," and "Terrorist With Mustache," respectively,
to go and kill her. Which dosn't sound too strange, until you see them sailing on this little barge thing, in order to get to the boat that she's on along with the rest of that film's cast. So... the movie the General is watching is actually happening in real time, and now the two terroists he's sent after Miss Australia are in it?

Oh, and General Noriega is played by Burt Young, AKA Paulie from the "Rocky" movies.

I have to stop here. There's more. I've barely scratched the surface. But I have to stop here, otherwise I'll be talking all night. From the production side, there's really not much to say. There's not really much real acting going on, everyone's just mugging for the camera, although I will say that Sandler has presense even at this stage in his career. I wouldn't have
picked him to one day become one of the highest paid comedic actors of all time, but I also wouldn't have been surprised to find out he continued working if this were all I'd ever seen him in. The only other thing I take acception with is the description of this as a no-budget movie, as I've seen some truly no-budget movies doing this already, and this isn't one of them, even though it's clearly not up to the standards Sandler enjoys today.

Now we come to the tricky issue of rating this movie. I've gone back and forth over this decision a hundred times, it feels like. I hadn't really made up my mind when I started writing this. I should bin it. I should. And yet...



... I just can't. Because one day, I'm going to have a few friends round. We'll be laughing and joking. We may have had too much to drink. The conversation will turn to movies, as it always does with my friends, and somebody will ask, "What's the weirdest film you've ever seen?" And I will tell them about "Going Overboard." And then I will want to show them it. It's not a good film, in many ways it's a terrible film, but for being so completely and unapolagetically unhinged, I find myself admiring it.

Just like I do Adam Sandler.

Until next time, I'm The Cheap-Arse Film Critic, and I'm very very sneaky.

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