Howdy all you Supercultists out there on the interwebz! I’m Bad Movie Professor Cameron Coker (BS in “Actor Carrot Top” with a minor in “Box Office Poison”) and I’ll be posting my hype-tacular speeches every week along with some long lost speeches from past Supercult Shows!
This week Supercult searches for a poor, childlike 30-year old to will down his Fortune 500 company to after watching Chairman of the Board!
Edison is a poor surf bum turned wacky inventor struggling to pay the rent, but when he befriends a wealthy business magnate, Armand McMillan, on the beach things seem to pick up…especially when McMillan passes away and leaves Edison as the majority stockholder of his large invention corporation! Now Edison is living the dream while McMillan’s jealous nephew Bradford plots sabotage. Can Edison foil Bradford, woo the lovely Natalie Stockwell, save the company, and fulfill his dream of being a successful inventor? Carrot Top is Chairman of the Board!
Every now and then a movie comes along that is so bad, so unbelievably putrid, that it literally kills the careers of the people attached to it. Howard the Duck (1986), Cutthroat Island (1995), The Love Guru (2008), Superman Returns (2006)… this is the definition of box office poison, and Chairman of the Board, released in 1998, is overqualified for the term.
Alex Zamm, who had previously only worked on shorts and TV episodes and would later exile himself to the world of TV and direct to video, directs the film. Afterwards he would dedicate his life to continuing the sagas of some of our worst franchises such as Inspector Gadget 2, Dr Dolittle: Million Dollar Mutts, Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2, Tooth Fairy 2, and the upcoming Jingle All The Way 2. Meanwhile the star, Scott ‘Carrot Top’ Thompson, was an up-and-coming prop comic who had gained success and notoriety doing shows for college students. Though he had only acted in bit roles up to this point the world was already experiencing a visceral dislike of his particular brand of inanities. Inexperience and gut reactions alone would account for a film making its way into the Supercult playlist, but Chairman of the Board inspires its own special brand of derision for the industry responsible for a Carrot Top movie. This is an industry that actively encouraged a walking punch line like Carrot Top in the first place, thereby making a multi-million Carrot Top movie not just possible, but inevitable. Chairman of the Board isn’t the disease, people…it’s just a symptom.
Alongside Carrot Top as Edison, Chairman of the Board stars Courtney Thorne-Smith, veteran TV star of “Melrose Place” and “According to Jim” fame, as the love interest Natalie Stockwell, comedian and TV star Larry Miller as the villain Bradford McMillan, and the late, great Jack Warden, two-time Academy Award Nominee and star of 12 Angry Men as the billionaire Armand McMillan. This by all accounts strong supporting cast is completely overwhelmed, however, by a near constant barrage of dead-on-arrival one liners and flail-screaming from Carrot Top. Somehow or other Chairman of the Board ripped off Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (a live-action cartoon character man-child sent to teach us stuffy prudes how to have fun and goof-off) but neglected the crucial ingredient: a charming, likable protagonist.
Both critics and audiences received Chairman of the Board negatively. Comedian and former Mystery Science Theatre 3000 host Michael J. Nelson named the film the fifth worst comedy ever made, WatchMOJO.com rates it at number 9 on its list of the top ten worst comedy movies, and Chairman of the Board sits at number 70 in IMDB’s bottom 100 movie list: worse than #76 Supercult classic Santa with Muscles, but better than #22 Supercult Classic Space Mutiny. The film was even nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards, one for Worst New Star (Carrot Top), and another for Worst Supporting Actress Raquel Welch as Grace Kosik. More telling than that however are the box office numbers: from a budget of $10 million Chairman of the Board brought in a mere $181,233, not even a 2% return on investment. IMDB reviewer Tobias_R writes, “The only comment I offer about the film, and it is not a spoiler, it’s simply God’s honest truth, it’s not funny. None of it is, not even a nanosecond of it is funny.”
Even Conan O’Brien couldn’t put a positive spin on the project. Usually when TV talk shows talk about upcoming films everyone at least pretends that the project has the potential to be good. In a now famous episode of Conan’s show this unwritten rule was trampled with gusto by none other than comedian Norm MacDonald as he sat next to one of the stars of the show, Courtney Thorne-Smith. Nathan Rabin of the Dissolve writes, “The great thing about MacDonald’s appearance on Late Night – and his talk show appearances in general – is that it feels like he’s drunkenly, inventively heckling the show from his La-Z-Boy at home, even though he’s a mere foot from Thorne-Smith, and a couple of feet from O’Brien…O’Brien [asks] poor Thorne-Smith a question no one should have to answer: “Why a movie with Carrot Top?” The lost expression on her face as she attempts to answer suggests she understands this isn’t a softball question: It’s an existential query that simultaneously demands and defies an easy answer, for society and the film industry as for this luckless actress.”
Every scene with Carrot Top is painful to watch, but it only gets worse when the film tries to sexualize Edison, first by introducing the character naked in the shower, then during a job-search montage as a tester for a condom company, and then again as he receives an innuendo laden tennis lesson from lingerie model Cindy Margolis (2000 Guinness World Record holder for the “most downloaded” person) as Carrot Top feigns orgasm. One must wonder what sort of sadistic studio exec would force audiences to think about Carrot Top’s penis. Nathan Rabin writes, “ Edison’s romance with Natalie Stockwell, Thorne-Smith’s character is comparatively tame and wholesome by comparison…Yet it’s worth noting that every moment Thorne-Smith is onscreen, she looks visibly more awkward than she did during the Conan segment, a television spot that has become famed for its awkwardness. All Thorne-Smith is called upon to do here is force smiles and act like she’s attracted to, and impressed by, a character played by Carrot Top. And yet she is utterly defeated by those demands.” Nathan goes on to say, “Chairman of the Board really is as terrible as its reputation suggests, but there’s something oddly poignant about it all the same. It exemplifies a curious time when anything seemed possible, even the notion that Carrot Top might be a major movie star. Some dreams, however, prove too preposterous.”
This film, my fellow Supercultists is not just a bad movie worthy of our scorn and laughter. It’s a symptom of a much greater problem within the industry that must be confronted and overcome! Be prepared Supercultists. You might have to work a little harder than usual to enjoy this one if you know what I mean…
The Supercult show is proud to present Chairman of the Board.