Film reviews and more since 2009

Chairman of the Board (1998) review

Dir. Alex Zamm

By: Steve Pulaski

Rating: ★

I was a freshman in high school when I first saw Chairman of the Board. It was a period of transition in my youth when I had merely morsels of a social life, and a desire to supplement my copious amount of downtime with slacker comedies. It was a fun, carefree existence for a while. I binged a lot of Pauly Shore films, as well as other stoner comedies and stand-up specials. In my original review, I gave Chairman of the Board two and a half stars out of four. I was so much younger then; I’m older than that now.

Chairman of the Board is Carrot Top’s first and only starring role in a feature film, and you don’t have to squint to see why. Carrot Top can be funny in small doses. It seems with his commitment to his craft of prop-centric comedy as well as his sheer tenacity, he has been able to snatch a coveted Las Vegas residency and keep his brand of humor rolling in Sin City since 2005. His migration west, to Hollywood, was ill-fated, and the lone heirloom from his time as a film actor has been appropriately relegated to “worst of” lists and the ignominy that is the bowels of the internet.

In the film, Carrot Top plays Edison, a failed inventor and surfer dude who lives with his two friends in a shabby cottage. He wastes all the rent money on one hapless invention after another: a bug-zapper hat and an anatomically correct fanny-pack, which looks like an exposed buttocks to name a couple. While cruising one afternoon — cause deadbeats in the 1990s could afford things despite not holding down a job — he meets and befriends Armand McMillan (Jack Warden) as he helps “repair” his vehicle. Armand is an inventor at heart, and admires Edison’s go-getter attitude. Shortly thereafter, Armand dies and leaves his multimillion dollar corporation to the man he met roadside. His company “needs to stay in the hands of a dreamer,” Armand states in his posthumous video diary.

The bulk of the film revolves around Edison acting as a fish-out-of-water amongst stuffy boardroom types and running Armand’s company by the seat of his pants. Meanwhile, Armand’s cantankerous nephew (Larry Miller) is aghast to discover his uncle merely left him his prized surfboard, and no stake in the company. He and his dame (Raquel Welch, inexplicably) plot to back Edison into a corner, so when the company’s stock price drops, he’ll be ousted as chairman and forced to sell the company to him. This calls for a bright-idea. Can I interest you in a portable TV dinner with a built-in television set?

Chairman of the Board is reminiscent of Freddy Got Fingered minus the outrageous shock value gags and its desire to test the limits of a gross-out comedy. Instead, it’s just plain gross. As if the horrible writing wasn’t sufficiently kamikazeing the material enough, Alex Zamm and cinematographer David Lewis drive the project into the ground with wacky, canted camera angles and an abundance of asinine and asi-ten set-pieces liable to club even the most optimistic viewer into submission.

Some might wonder why I can embrace, and even defend, a movie like Bio-Dome and accost Chairman of the Board. Where Bio-Dome transported two slacker characters into a completely unconventional setting, and functioned more-or-less like a live-action Beavis & Butt-Head, Chairman of the Board simply mistakes wackiness for wit. A shot of a frozen cat falling out of a freezer isn’t funny on its own. There needs to be a rhyme or reason for such an occurrence.

Like Carrot Top’s infamous stand-up routines, where he’s aided by multiple trunks filled with homemade props, he throws a lot of sight and visual gags at the audience, desperately panting for a laugh. The presence of so many cockamamie inventions by his character suggest that Carrot Top cannot be nor feel like himself with being surrounded by an abundance of junk. I’ve watched enough of Carrot Top’s standup to contend that his humility is ultimately what makes him funny. For example, if a particular prop doesn’t elicit a large quantity of laughs, he’ll toss it aside and say something like, “well, that one ate crap” before moving onto the next item. Such humility might’ve greatly aided Chairman of the Board. Better yet, an entirely new script in general would’ve done the job too.

NOTE: As of this writing, Chairman of the Board is streaming on Amazon Prime Video, Tubi, and YouTube, all free of charge.

Starring: Carrot Top, Larry Miller, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Raquel Welch, Mystero Clark, M. Emmet Walsh, and Jack Warden. Directed by: Alex Zamm.

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About Steve Pulaski

Steve Pulaski has been reviewing movies since 2009 for a barrage of different outlets. He graduated North Central College in 2018 and currently works as an on-air radio personality. He also hosts a weekly movie podcast called "Sleepless with Steve," dedicated to film and the film industry, on his YouTube channel. In addition to writing, he's a die-hard Chicago Bears fan and has two cats, appropriately named Siskel and Ebert!

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