Monday, May 21, 2012

The 31 Day Movie Challenge - Day 23 - CAPTAIN RON (1992)

- Rated PG-13 for elements of sensuality and for some language.
- Starring Martin Short, Kurt Russell, Mary Kay Place
- Written by John Dwyer and Thom Eberhardt
- Directed by Thom Eberhardt
- Running time: 1hr 39min

(The 31 Day Movie Challenge was proposed to me by fellow film critic Jessie Hoheisel (from superawesomemovieblog). We each chose 30 films for each other to review for the month of May. The first film chosen will be from 1970. The second film from 1971... and so on. The last day will be a film from 2000. I accepted the challenge!) 

I saw this film twice in the theater when I was 16.  Not that I loved it that much or even really liked it.  No.  I saw it a second time because this girl I liked wanted to see it and thought maybe I'd be able to get to hold her hand during it.  No such luck.  Still, I don't recall the movie being too painful, if not memorable.  So now, 20 years later, I'm giving this one a third look.

Martin Short plays Martin (original), a bored office worker who is so excited when his uncle leaves him a historic boat that's worth millions.  He convinces his wife (Mary Kay Place) to bring their son and teenage daughter to the Caribbean in order to retrieve the boat.  The catch is, they must sail the boat back so that an expert can determine the exact value.  Since Martin knows nothing about sailing, he hires a local to take them on their journey, Captain Ron (Kurt Russell).  He's a little rough around the edges, I guess.  He wears his shirt open (when he's wearing one), he drinks beer, has an eye patch, and speaks his mind.  Ooooh.  Sounds like a nightmare!  Martin hates him, but before you can say "WHAT ABOUT BOB?", his entire family falls in love with him during their 5 day voyage.

This is Hollywood Formula at it's purist.  You know exactly what's going to happen almost every second.  Yes, of course Martin Short and Kurt Russell are going to clash.  Of course Captain Ron is going to teach the family valuable life lessons.  Of course Martin and Ron will have a falling out before respecting each other at the end.  That wouldn't necessarily be a problem if the film were actually funny, but it's not.  At all.  I guess it could pass as something harmless to have in the background while you're folding laundry or something, but when I watch a movie I want to see something awesome.... or something awful.  CAPTAIN RON is neither, it's safe, mediocre fluff.  And to me, that's the worst a movie can be.

Martin Short is seriously miscast as the straight man.  Why would you want to put a normally funny actor as a stuffed shirt bore?  He seems very uncomfortable here trying to act like a normal family man.  It just doesn't work.  This was a role Charles Grodin was born to play, but "no, let's get Ed Grimley to NOT be funny."  Stupid!  Kurt Russell looks to be having fun, but he doesn't have anything funny to do.  He just grunts his lines while Short looks at him with disgust. Mary Kay Place isn't terrible as Martin's wife, and doesn't look too bad naked for being in her 40's, but unfortunately the plot won't let her rise above being a one dimensional character. 

So Captain Ron is supposed to be this extremely rude, crude and outrageous character, but he comes across surprisingly tame.  I mean, the worse thing this guy does is give Martin's son a beer.  Granted, that's bad, but in movieland, it's nothing.  He should have been more wild.  And the movie just goes on an on.  Every situation seemed like it was from a mid-90's sitcom, which means not funny.  Isn't it funny to put apparently normal people into crazy situations like almost being flooded in a shower?  Not really.  And just like any other mediocre comedy, they try to shoe in an adventure plot with some pirates that completely comes out of left field.  And how did Martin know the name of the pirate?  Some sloppy writing here.

Director Eberhardt does nothing to elevate this from being anything other than a boring TV movie, and I'm sure if Kurt Russell wasn't in it, that's exactly where it would have premiered.  I know that this has a bit of a cult following, but for the life of me I don't know why.  This is an extraordinarily ordinary film.  Yaaaawwwnnn......zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

* (out of ****)

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