Boat Trip

What makes Cuba Gooding Jr. such a perversely fascinating actor isn't just the terrible roles he often chooses, but also the scary conviction he invests in them. In Boat Trip, for example, he takes a broad character and blows him up to Godzilla-sized proportions. And, like Boat Trip itself, he doesn't just play to the rafters; he plays to the rafters on other planets. In the film's first 10 minutes, Gooding mugs wildly with his dog, lip-syncs to James Brown, breakdances, and vomits on stuffy girlfriend Vivica A. Fox in a hot-air balloon. Then it gets really shameless. A German-financed sex farce that seems to exist in a pre-AIDS, pre-Stonewall universe where gay people largely serve as wacky comic foils, Boat Trip casts Gooding as a lovable goofball whose love life hits bottom when Fox rejects his vomit-soaked marriage proposal. Deeply immersed in the kind of existential funk that only Horatio Sanz (the fat guy from Saturday Night Live) and a zany comedy of sexual confusion can alleviate, Gooding decides to join Sanz on a cruise ostensibly packed with eligible, eager single women. Alas, Sanz's beef with Artie Lange (the fat guy who used to be on Mad TV) results in Gooding and Sanz going on a gay cruise, a development that allows the filmmakers to recycle every ancient, juvenile sex gag ever committed to film. Shamelessly trying to have it both ways, Boat Trip constantly references the upstanding, non-stereotypical jobs of the cruise patrons, while subscribing to a view of gay men that otherwise seems informed entirely by the careers of Paul Lynde, Jim J. Bullock, and Bruce Vilanch. Like Gooding, Boat Trip has an agreeable air of anything-goes vulgarity, which is so transcendentally idiotic that it's impossible to tell whether the film is a brilliant, deadpan parody of raunchy lowbrow farces from the '70s and '80s, or one of the stupidest, most regressive films ever made. Or, more likely, it's a little of both.

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