Abe (Jacob Zachar) is a fairly unusual kid. Very smart, and charismatic, but the only thing Abe wants for his life is to buy a boat, put it in Lake Michigan and sail it all over the world. Apparently, the only thing standing in his way is his age. He has raised the hundreds of dollars he needs, and even picked out a boat with a lot of… character. Character and holes. Unfortunately, the owner of the boat, Fletcher (John Goodman), can’t sell to a minor unless an adult signs the paperwork for him. Abe’s mother (Dana Delany) won’t allow it, but her brother Mort (John Malkovich) is back in town after an extended estrangement, and Abe has a plan to trick him into signing for the boat while his mother’s away.
I was really drawn in by the cast of this. Goodman and Malkovich have an amazing body of work between them and Drunkboat is certainly the style of film I would expect from both of them. It’s somewhat surreal, somewhat quixotic, with a wide-eyed naiveté that keeps things light. The two main aspects of the film feel completely divorced from each other until they’re not anymore. In one storyline, we have Fletcher running his used boat dealership with his business partner Morley (Jim Ortlieb). On the other side of the film, we have Abe living with his mother when suddenly his long lost Uncle Mort pops back into their lives, trying to stay sober.
Unfortunately, when the two story lines start to blend together, it’s not as significant as one would hope, but the various aspects of this film work really well, even if the whole is not greater than the sum of its parts. The relationship between Abe and Mort is interesting because it feels like they’ve known each other for a long time, even though Abe hasn’t seen his uncle since he was a kid. Mort will hobble around upstairs on a broomstick pretending to be Ahab looking for the white whale, and it’s clear that this is a good night tradition that goes back for years.
The mother leaving to stay with a friend feels oddly convenient to the plot. She doesn’t leave out of necessity within her character; she leaves to serve the conflict of Abe trying to buy this boat before she can say no. It’s strange and inorganic, and weakens the overall film if only slightly.
No special features on the DVD.
Available on DVD from Virgil Films on September 25