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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

“Gosh, what a sweet little outfit. Is it your little spring outfit?”

posted by on June 24 at 11:12 AM

The Onion A.V. Club has a list of 19 one-scene wonders. These scenes generally improve the movie that they’re in, or, in a few cases, like Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, are actually the scene that powers the rest of the movie. There’s already a lot of anger at the fact that Christopher Walken’s watch monologue from Pulp Fiction wasn’t included. The comments are a film nerd’s paradise.

But the thing that this list really did for me was remind me of the genius cameo that David Letterman did in Cabin Boy. Cabin Boy simply wasn’t that good of a movie, even though apologists have been making a case for it ever since it bombed in theaters back in 1994. But David Letterman’s freakish, absurd cameo kicks off the plot and brings a level of humor to the whole thing that the movie never actually manages to attain for the remainder of its run time. He basically ruins Cabin Boy by being so much weirder and funnier than the rest of the film around it. I’ve watched this thing five or six times in a row and I can’t figure out why or how it works, but it’s sure made my day.

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Well, for one thing, Letterman probably was allowed to improv about half his dialogue, and that, along with knowing he only had to do the one little scene in an otherwise interminably unfunny script, imbued his performance with a weirdly endearing quality.

Besides, who HASN'T wanted to call Chris Elliott a "fancy boy" at some point?

Posted by COMTE | June 24, 2008 11:25 AM

Sometimes I have terrifying dreams in which David Letterman is my father.

Posted by tabletop_joe | June 24, 2008 11:31 AM

This was made back when Dave had just left NBC for CBS and was on top of the broadcasting world. It's a great scene ("She's a dietician" cracks me up every time) but a sad reminder of how Letterman used to be aggressively and outlandishly funny whereas now he's resigned to being the elder statesman of... well, elder statesmen.

Posted by Jason Josephes | June 24, 2008 11:38 AM

Cabin Boy was a GREAT movie. I'm probably one of those apologists you refer to, though. Get a Life rules, too.

Posted by sleestak | June 24, 2008 11:39 AM

i'd like to take this opportunity to promote the only good scene in "less than zero" where robert downey jr. charms a little girl out of her mommy's necklace. magic.

Posted by ellarosa | June 24, 2008 11:47 AM

Right you are, @4! "Cabin Boy" is no one-scene-wonder. Talking cupcake. Nuff said.

Posted by Baxter | June 24, 2008 11:49 AM

@4 - I agree. Cabin Boy was great, as was Get a Life. I guess you've gotta be a Chris Elliot fan to appreciate it.

Elliot on Letterman was also brilliant, especially when he did his Brando impersonation:
"[to Paul] How's it going, Ringo?"
"David, don't drink the lemonade. It's not lemonade. Jakunta, you're in big trouble when I get back to the island!"

Posted by Mahtli69 | June 24, 2008 11:52 AM

I haven't clicked over there yet, but I hope to find Vonnegut in the doorway in "Back to School."

Posted by Rain Monkey | June 24, 2008 12:11 PM

@7 - I TOTALLY forgot about Chris Elliott's Brando impression. Thanks for the reminder. Time to hit Youtube.

Posted by sleestak | June 24, 2008 12:16 PM

I hate those damn apologists always disagreeing with my opinions.

Posted by J | June 24, 2008 12:34 PM

I was always a fan of Elliott's "FDR: A One-Man Show" as well.

Posted by Jason Josephes | June 24, 2008 12:40 PM

I LOVED Cabin Boy. A friend and I quote it on a regular basis (I was thinking we were the only ones who saw it).

"These pipes are clean!" Chris Elliot is a comic genius.

Posted by ahava | June 24, 2008 12:48 PM

Ahem. Allow me to quote Cabin Boy here

Posted by Brian | June 24, 2008 1:02 PM

Letterman also had some fun with this at the Oscars that year, showing a lot of actors supposedly auditioning with the "Do you want to buy a monkey?" line. Albert Brooks was hysterical, haranguing the camera with "Are you gonna buy the BLEEPING monkey or not?!?"

Posted by Joseph J. Finn | June 24, 2008 1:05 PM

Totally sexist.

Posted by DOUG. | June 24, 2008 1:51 PM

There were a couple of terrific moments in that movie. And that's all you can hope for in a sketch comedy film. The Letterman bit kicks ass. It's partly that letterman calling him a girl is so stupid, it's partly the insane anachronistic quality and mostly that these guys have great comic chemistry.
Most movies and most great movies have big problems. But movies should be judged like you judge a life by the wonderful moments not by the long boring parts.

Posted by Tim Keck | June 24, 2008 1:51 PM

it works because LETTERMAN'S NOT ACTING.

Posted by max solomon | June 24, 2008 3:07 PM

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