2010 Moby Dick: A Celebration

Saturday evening, at about 8:28pm (OK, at exactly 8:28pm), I finished the first draft of The Book.

Cue sparkling confetti falling from the ceiling, popping of champagne corks and triumphant blasts from the horn section in the corner of my living room. You’d think, right? It was, rather to my surprise, what my brain had expected would happen at this moment and when it didn’t – to my even greater surprise - I was oddly disappointed. However, earlier in the day, I had acquired just the thing for a very satisfying substitute, namely 2010: Moby Dick. Go ahead, check it out.

See what I mean? With that cover, how could I resist? And it turned out to be so incredibly terrible that it was beyond wonderful. Although my favorite "so bad it's good" movie remains Anaconda precisely because they didn't intend for it to be that way and I suspect the makers of 2010: Moby Dick knew exactly what they were doing, this one was so enjoyable I might actually buy it used for couple of bucks when it hits the remainder bins at my video store.

As an aside, why is it still called the video store? Because "the DVD store" sounds ridiculous? Anyway, moving on.

Before I get to a few examples of why 2010: Moby Dick was so fantastic, a short summary of the story. Which is allegedly based on Melville's book, but I suspect only very loosely. There is a white whale and a man named Ahab (played by Barry Bostwick), as well as others named for characters in the book, but Ahab commandeers a submarine and the whale is a 600 feet prehistoric beast. It appears to have been around for a long time judging by the forest of harpoons decorating its back and there was a hint somewhere that it's truly prehistoric, having lived for hundreds and hundreds of years. Perhaps millennia. Long enough to develop a thoroughly bad attitude, anyway. We have a sort of heroine, a female marine biologist who specializes in whales with her sidekick Pippin. The first time she meets Ahab is when the submarine pulls up next to her and commandeers her services and equipment from the wee rowboat called "the Coffin" in which she is testing a whale calling doodad she's invented. Already, I’m hooked.

The Marine biologist works for "The Institution." No, not The Institute - most other marine biologist might work for an institute of something or other, but this one works for The Institution. I suspect everyone involved in making this movie might have. She is at first reticent to go on a hunting expedition, but changes her mind because… well, I'm not exactly sure why, but at least she made a token objection. You see, Moby has been running amok, smashing a whale sighting boat and an oil rig and is clearly revving up for something good. So they go chasing it, there are complications with Ahab not telling his superiors what he's doing and they sending someone after him because they believe he's gone rogue. Conveniently, the whale eats the pursuers, although I believe the rotors on the helicopter might have scraped its mouth. 

There is much chasing, much roaring and bellowing from Moby Dick (I had no idea that whales roared, but maybe that's because I've never seen a prehistoric one before), much chewing of scenery – Bostwick’s brilliant performance is probably enhanced by the fact that most everybody else in the movie couldn't act their way out of a paper bag - and they eventually manage to distract the whale from going medieval prehistoric on a cruise ship and herd it (the whale, not the cruise ship) into an atoll. At some point in these proceedings, someone tries to dissuade Ahab from the hunt by asking "how many more people must die?" and no one mentions stopping the rampage that the whale is on by citing oil rig workers, tourists or cruise ship passengers. Nope. Instead Ahab passionately engages in some verbiage that is no doubt directly lifted from the Moby Dick Coles/Cliff Notes. I don't know who wrote this - they're clearly skilled enough to pull together a screenplay, but apparently not terribly familiar with logic.

As you might imagine, things go badly in the lagoon and people end up on a small island. Marine biologist, Ahab and a few others sit on a hill by a cemetery from an old leper colony and Ahab is having trouble because he lost his prosthesis somewhere. After waving his stump about to make sure everybody's seen it, he naturally grabs one of the crosses, attaches it to the end of his leg and stomps off with deranged purpose. Shortly after that the hunters become the hunted when the whale somehow becomes able to move around on land. Bellowing furiously.

I haven't laughed that hard watching a movie in a very long time. And, very thoughtfully, one of the trailers on the DVD gave me a tip for what my next movie rental should be. I’m saving it for when I’m done with the re-write of The Book.

What's your favorite "so bad it's good" movie?