Elliott, a talented young comedian whose geeky boyishness barely masks a polished, almost acidic sarcasm, has his first starring role in this deliberately puerile comedy, which he concocted with director Adam Resnick. He plays a peevish, pampered hotel heir who, having just graduated from finishing school, plans to take a deluxe cruise home to Hawaii, but mistakenly boards a squalid old slop heap called The Filthy Whore (he thinks it’s some kind of old-sail “theme” boat). The crew, of course, doesn’t cotton to Elliott’s effete ways, which include sculpting fish sticks into kittens and plopping down next to the captain, exclaiming, “Oh, Cappy! Tell me everything about the sea!” Bui through a series of idiotic misadventures—including, believe it or not, a fight-to-the-finish with a giant appliance salesman—Elliott finally becomes a man, or at least a very advanced teenager.
Most of Cabin Boy is impressively, even aggressively, surreal without being much fun (the talking, tobacco-spitting cupcake stands out in memory). I would gladly have swapped the whole movie for the slight, silly moment in the beginning when Elliott, taking his fateful walk to the ship, screams in terror at the sight of a bunny rabbit. Elliott doesn’t need special-effects giants, even ones with clip-on pens and name lags that say “Mulligan,” to get a laugh. (PG-13)