Once respected NYPD detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is now pretty much on his last legs literally and figuratively. He drinks is relegated to a desk job and walks with a limp. One morning after a long shift he’s corralled into transporting a petty criminal Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse 16 blocks away so he can testify by 10:00 a.m. What Jack doesn’t know is that Eddie is one of the key witnesses in a case against crooked cops--that is until the two start getting shot at. Then it becomes crystal clear. The main bad guy Jack’s former partner Frank (David Morse) basically lets Jack know Eddie will never testify to just go ahead and hand him over but Frank underestimates Jack’s desire to finally do something good. So Jack and Eddie fight their way to the courthouse block by gut-wrenching block. Oh no there’s nothing formulaic about 16 Blocks not at all. In a film as predictable as this the only thing that’ll make it stand out is the performances. 16 Blocks nearly succeeds--but not quite. It would seem Willis is playing a character he’s played a hundred times before--the misunderstood and slightly unorthodox cop with a heart of gold. But as Jack the actor does a nice job trying out some new things namely playing fat bald and grizzled. You can almost smell how bad Jack’s breath has to be. Rapper/actor Mos Def who usually brightens any film he’s in also tries his hand at something different but his choices aren’t as smart. As the talkative and affable Eddie Mos comes up with one of the more annoying nasally accents ever recorded. After about five minutes of screen time you desperately want him to stop and say “Just kidding! I don’t really talk like this.” But he doesn’t. It’s too bad something like an accent can ruin an otherwise decent performance. Old-school director Richard Donner best known for his Lethal Weapons is a consummate professional when it comes to making these kind of movies. In other words he pretty much paints by numbers. We watch Jack and Eddie get out of one tight situation after another as the gaggle of bad cops try to gun them down. I mean 16 blocks doesn’t seem that far to go so they better throw in as many highly implausible obstacles as they can. Chinese laundries alleyways rooftops subways. And yes even a city bus which the pair--who have by now bonded big time--has to hijack. Donner also employs a popular but nonetheless annoying technique of zooming in when the action heats up so you can’t really see what’s going on. Even if you’re addicted to action movies--a Bruce Willis action movie no less--16 Blocks just doesn’t deliver the goods.
After wrecking things with his fiancée Felicia (Vivica A. Fox) Jerry (Cuba Gooding Jr) decides to book a cruise with his best friend Nick (Horatio Sanz) to find love and romance on the high seas. But when Nick inadvertently ticks off the travel agent he exacts revenge by booking the straight pals on a gay ship. Once aboard and stuck at sea Nick desperate to escape aims a flare gun at a passing helicopter so they can airlift them back to heterosexual land. Instead he causes the chopper to crash-land forcing its 12 chesty passengers members of a Swedish sun tanning team to take refuge on the boat. Nick spends the rest of the film trying to sleep with them but always ends up with the virile butch head coach instead. Meanwhile Jerry gets drunk falls into the pool and wakes up to find the beautiful dance instructor Gabriella (Roselyn Sanchez) performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on him. He tries to sleep with her but she thinks he's gay. Jerry lets her believe this because it allows her to let her guard down undress in front of him and talk about meaningful things including how to give a good blow job. But hold on to your visors--there's a twist! Jerry's ex jumps on board mid-voyage to reclaim her man only to find him singing "I'm Coming Out" in a sequined thong.
The most devastating thing about Boat Trip is the fact that it stars Gooding. Is this the same actor who delivered a mind-blowing performance as Tre in John Singleton's 1991 directorial debut Boyz N the Hood and earned the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1996 for the role of football player Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire? At some point Gooding's film choices took a wrong turn and a string of debacles ensued: Rat Race Pearl Harbor Snow Dogs and now this. As Jerry Gooding who portrayed a gay art dealer so eloquently in As Good As It Gets spends 93 minutes proclaiming his heterosexuality and making really stupid faces at the camera. Although Gooding's character Jerry is a sweet guy he's also a flake and it's hard to relate to all the dumb choices he makes throughout the film. Jerry's pal Nick is played by Saturday Night Live alum Sanz (The New Guy) who during his two-year stint on the late night comedy sketch show displayed his versatility and comedic skill nailing impressions and garnering praise--including comparisons to the late SNL great John Belushi. In Boat Trip however Sanz's character Nick an oversexed twerp in a cabana shirt is reduced to being the butt of jokes.
Director Mort Nathan's Boat Trip should have been called The Love Boat: The Homophobic Voyage because it plays out like one of those two-hour TV movies based on the 1970s sitcom. But while the Pacific Princess promised us that love wouldn't hurt anymore it's as hurtful as can be on Boat Trip's deluxe ocean liner. Take Nick for example. He just wants a little lovin' from Swedish sun tanner Inga but is instead chased by the team's manly coach who likes to show off her deep-throat skills on a baseball bat. Not only is this disturbing it's not funny which is the problem with Nathan and William Bigelow's script. The humor isn't seamless and you can smell a joke's set up from a mile away. And unfortunately a bunch of bad jokes strung together do not a good story make--especially when the script is littered with two-dimensional characters. The most objectionable thing about this film however is not its crude humor or its cartoonish stereotypes but the fact that it actually tries to deliver a moral with its story. Jerry and Nick leave their cruise with the knowledge that straight dudes can actually be friends with gay guys because they can be professional businessmen too such as doctors and accountants. You don't say?