Chairman of the Board (dir. Alex Zamm)
I’ve long been a fan of Carrot Top, the much-maligned prop-comic who used to provide me with lots of laughs when he hosted "Carrot Top’s A.M. Mayhem" on the Cartoon Network. Of course, I only caught the show after working all-nighters and might have been more prone to laugh at his humor because I certainly wasn’t prompted to guffaw once while watching his motion picture starring vehicle, Chairman of the Board.
If the humor of Carrot Top is unique, this Alex Zamm film certainly isn’t. Throughout watching, I was reminded of several other filmsalmost all of which I’d rather have been watching than a poorly paced, uninspired amalgam.
Carrot Top plays Edison, an inventor and surf-enthusiast whom lives with two other bums (Jack Plotnick and Mystro Clark) in a highly decorated house (Pee Wee’s Big Adventure) filled with his wacky inventions (The Wrong Trousers). They’re two months late on the rent as Edison’s spent his money on his latest invention. Their landlady (Estelle Harris) will not be appeased with sexual favors again (Kingpin), this time she’s determined to be paid in full.
While out trying to sell some of his ideas, Edison gives a lift to a stranded motorist (Melvin & Howard) and fellow surfer, Armand (Jack Warden), who is so impressed by Edison’s spunk that he leaves Edison his company (UHF) after kicking the bucket.
Edison’s nemesis is Armand’s nephew, Bradford (Larry Miller), who feels that he was cheated out of his rightful inheritance. Bradford discovers that if the value of the company’s stocks fall below $20 a share that he would acquire ownership. Knowing that Edison is pretty much an idiot (The Bellboy, The Errand Boy), Bradford feels that with his goofy ideas that Edison will drive the company into the ground (Hudsucker Proxy).
At first, Edison’s naïveté and childlike innocence (Big) is detrimental but eventually people come around to his wacky ways, especially after his hit idea of microwave TV dinners that actually come with a television set inside. Stocks soar until a flaw in the product brings about a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the company (The Jerk) and threatens to put the control in Bradford’s hands.
Of course, everything turns out okay and Edison gets the girl, the company, his rent money, and a chance to surf some more (The Big Wednesday).
One thing that Carrot Top doesn’t seem to understand about himself is that he needs to remain nearly asexual like the main characters of most of the above films. A scene with Carrot Top and Cindy Margolis feels incongruous. Along with that, the surfing felt out of place and the fish-out-of-water plot recycled, but more than anything I was disappointed in the film because I knew that Carrot Top could have done better, especially when given an arena in which he could have showcased some of his inventions. Carrot Top needed to forgo the hair jokes and take pointers from Joel Hodgeson, another stand-up comedian/inventor who used his talents to create "Mystery Science Theater 3000" instead of coming off as inspired as Gallagher II’s act.
Along with the aforementioned films, Chairman of the Board also reminded me of Dumb & DumberHigh Anxiety, Tapeheads, Airheads, Toys, National Lampoon’s Last Resort and Surf Nazis Must Die. Overall, though, Chairman of the Board recalled another eccentrically coifed red head’s dud of a film, Yahoo Serious’ Young Einstein.
1998 saw another film with losers months behind on their rent who benefit from a wacky invention and are left a franchise via a video will: David Zucker’s Baseketball. Like Chairman of the Board, Baseketball was hard pressed to turn a profit. However, unlike Carrot Top’s flick, I found the Trey Parker and Matt Stone vehicle to be hilariously funny.