Cutthroat Island

Cutthroat island nch

September 19th, 2012
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The episode opens with Nostalgia Chick walking from the left side of the screen, holding her phone to her ear, and carrying a mug of Starbucks coffee; Nostalgia Critic's voice can be heard on the phone)

NC: It's just like with Kickassia, only with emotional stakes and sincerity this time. It is up to you (NChick sighs) to continue the Nostalgia lineage.

NChick: (sniffles) Wait, (clears throat), I'm, uh, I'm still a little confused on what happened. So, if you, ok, so you merged with a plot hole, which then, like, devoured our universe, and, uh, we are now living in it, so does that make you.. God?

NC: Isn't it obvious? It's exactly what happened when Dave touched the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, and (chuckles) I think we (NChick sits down) all know what was going on in that movie.

NChick: Are you a Muppet? Cause you kinda sound like you're a Muppet.

Cut to NC, who is indeed a muppet, floating in the cosmos and talking on the phone. He looks at the camera and then looks back at the phone.

NC Muppet: Why would you even say something like that?

NChick: (setting her mug down, smirking) Did merging into that plot turn you into a Muppet?

NC Muppet: No! Now continue on the Nostalgia lineage with one of the greatest box-office disasters of all time: Cutthroat Island.

NChick: (whining) But I don't wanna to review Cutthroat Island! It's bad and not in a fun way!

NC Muppet: Well, top titties! We've already secured the funds from our foreign investors and you're contractually obligated to do it!

NChick: How does that even happen?

NC Muppet: And also, it was just "Talk Like a Pirate Day". Yargh!

NChick: (pause, biting her lip) I don't even know what a smallie accent sounds like.


NChick retracts on the other end and hangs up.

NChick: Whatevah. Nostalgia Monopoly, (does a double downwards finger gun gesture) suckers!

The title for Cutthroat Island is shown, followed by a montage of the film's scenes.

NChick (VO): To me, the question isn't "Why does this movie exist?", but "Why isn't it more infamous?"

NChick: I mean, we're still kinda living in the nuclear winter caused by this movie, so why isn't this remembered as one of the great bad movies up there with the likes of Waterworld or Battlefield Earth? Or Showgirls?

NChick (VO): Along with Showgirls, it helped destroy the production company that made it, Carolco.

NChick: So after weeks on end of complaining about shitty action movies starring women, I think it's high time that we... (lowers voice) complain about a shitty action movie starring a woman

NChick (VO): It killed Geena Davis's career as a bankable lead, not to mention women in leads in action movies all the way up to... (a poster for The Hunger Games is shown) It destroyed the genre of the pirate movie up until Disney took a (footage of The Curse of the Black Pearl is shown) huge risk with Pirates of the Caribbean, it harmed the careers of people who didn't even have anything to do with it, like (shows photo of...) Shane Black. No, really. (a photo of Geena Davis with a bow is shown) It drove Geena Davis into archery, (a photo of the Richmond Theater burning is shown) audiences burned down theaters in rage riots all over the world, (shows people dead in the streets) it reintroduced the long-dormant Black Plague into Europe, killing millions, (sketch of the Roanoke Colony is shown) it somehow went back in time and caused the disappearance of the Roanoke Colony...

NChick: It could certifiably called the worst box-office disaster of all time. Up until John Carter.

She holds up a page of paper and reads it.

NChick: $98 million budget and a $4 million opening weekend.

She lowers the paper.

NChick: It would be amazing if I could trust anything you said ever, IMDB.

NChick (VO): And yet, here's a movie that's been all but blacked out by our collective cultural consciousness. It has neither the infamy of (shows poster for...) The Room, nor (shows footage of) Battlefield Earth, nor even it's closest peer and equally bad idea, Showgirls.

A clip from Showgirls is shown.

Normi: I'M SORRY!

NChick: Which is... bad? Yes. Quotable? Oh, yes. Memorable? All of the hells, yes. One can't really say the same about Cutthroat Island.

The opening scene is shown.

NChick (VO): Like, take a look at this scene from the very beginning of the movie: Geena Davis has just had sex with some random guy and we never find out who he is and he never shows back up again and he's like, "Muhr! I know you're a pirate and I'm gonna turn you in!"

Redcoat: (pulling a gun on Morgan) He will pay well for the capture of Morgan Adams, the pirate!

Morgan: (undoing her belt) Since I knew that you knew. By the way, that won't work.

She holds out her palm, revealing the ammunition.

Morgan: See, I took your balls.

NChick: (taking in a breath) Okay, so this is going to be a long one.

The scene repeats.

Morgan: See, I took your balls.

NChick does a boing sound effect and a sad trumpet sound effect

NChick: Badass with a vag! (points to herself) That's me!

NChick (VO): First off, this movie is nigh unriffable because it's painfully difficult to pay attention to. After she has sex with this guy we neither know nor care about and he never shows back up again, a bunch of guys show up and tell her, "Hey, we're looking for you, and now Frank Langella has captured your dad", and then Dawg (Frank Langella) kills her dad, and she pulls his dying self out of the ocean and then pulls him to shore and then they have a moment and then she scalps him--

NChick is breathing rapidly.

NChick: All of this in 5 minutes. By this point in Pirates of the Caribbean, we've met...

Clips from The Curse of the Black Pearl are shown.

NChick (VO): ...young Will Turner and young Elizabeth, and we've seen a ship burn and we've got the medallion.

NChick: And that's it.

NChick (VO): By the point in the film when we begin to set sail for the treasure in Pirates of the Caribbean, we've been with the characters for almost half an hour.

NChick: You know, it's odd how Cutthroat Island kinda feels like a ripoff of a movie that wouldn't come out for another 8 years.

Back to Cutthroat Island; Morgan is rowing towards Dawg's ship at dusk.

NChick (VO): Meanwhile at dusk...

Dawg's face is shown; it is nighttime behind him.

NChick (VO): Oh, okay, nevermind, actually; it seems to be nighttime.

Morgan continues to row; it is barely dusk behind her.

NChick (VO): Oh, okay, nevermind, it's, uh, dusk again.

Morgan's father is shown; it is nighttime behind him.

NChick (VO): Uh-- oh, dah! God, there's just so much wrong with this movie and we're not even 5 minutes in.

A shot of Dawg's boat is shown, and the water is suprisingly calm.

NChick (VO): Mmm, 'kay, I see this takes place in the placid... sea. Movie, did you not have any PAs offscreen like slapping the water to make this set look even a little oceany? Set Setty McSetSet-- look at that placid-ass water.

The anchor falls into the water.

NChick (VO): No, don't do that, you'll mess up the filter! And then Frank Langella, who plays the bad guy named...

The word "Dawg" is shown.

NChick (VO): ..."Dawg". It is spelled like this, yes.

The scene continues.

NChick (VO): And he kills Morgan's father, and, you know, we don't care, cause we don't know this guy. Are Morgan and her father tight? Do they talk? I don't know, but she doesn't have any problem scalping him to get the treasure... map he has tattooed on his head.

Morgan's father: Shave my head.

Morgan pulls out a switchblade.

NChick: And the rest of the movie is... I guess, just a treasure hunt. I think, actually, that's another big problem with the movie: it's just a treasure hunt. 2-hour treasure hunt.

Morgan: More gold, jewels, and plunder than you've ever dreamed of!

NChick (VO): Of course, the movie's gotta have a treasure, pirate movies always do, but the treasure can't be what matters. I can't think of a single half-decent pirate movie where the treasure is the thing that matters.

A clip from Muppet Treasure Island plays.

Jim Hawkins: I learnt it from my friends, Mister Silver. Now take your oars and row away; I never want to see you again, ever.

Text is shown below: Muppet Treasure Island = best pirate movie of the '90s.

NChick: See, here's the thing about pirate movies, or any movie, for that matter, y-- th-they need stakes. And if the only thing at stake is treasure, and we have like a bunch of characters that aren't interesting and dialogue that's not interesting and sets that look like shit, mmm, who cares?

A clip from The Curse of the Black Pearl is shown.

NChick (VO): Pirates of the Caribbean also had a treasure, but it had many other important subplots like revenge, family history, intrigue, loyalty, undead pirates who don't want to be undead anymore, all sorts of fun stuff to keep the audience invested.

Back to Cutthroat Island.

NChick (VO): In Cutthroat Island, it's just... um, maybe there's a revenge element because Frank Langella killed her dad, but... who cares? Geena doesn't seem to. All she seems to care about is this treasure. And the male lead, Matthew Modine...

NChick: I think with the male lead, they were going for a sort of modern-day Errol Flynn-type. And in Matthew Modine, they found this sort of bargain-brand WalMart Errol Flynn.

Shaw: But a woman with grace such as yours...

NChick (VO): Ah, this takes place in the early foppish period, I see.

Clips from Captain Blood are shown.

NChick (VO): This movie clearly lifts elements from Captain Blood, especially with Modine's character, the thief with a heart of gold who becomes a slave and then a pirate. But that movie also had a lot more at stake with it, with the Robin Hood-esque ideals it proported and the idea of a monarch who's worth being loyal to, or else, "Fuck it, we're gonna be pirates." Yeah, there was a treasure, but there was a lot more to it than that. So, uh, speaking of Captain Blood, let's, uh, take a look at this love interest.

Back to Cutthroat Island.

Shaw: A ship! I find myself being fired upon by an entire SHIP!

NChick: And although I think they clearly wanted a Cary Elwes for the part...

Photos are shown of...

NChick (VO): Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Daniel Day Lewis, Jeff Bridges, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Keaton, Charlie f*cking Sheen of all people, Liam Neeson, and Tim Robbins...

NChick: ..were all offered obscenely large paychecks in a desperate bid to get butts in seats.

A clip from The Princess Bride is shown.

NChick (VO): I assume Cary Elwes was in this list, too, because they finally settled on Cary Elwes. I mean Matthew Modine.

A photo of Modine as Shaw is shown, before appearing next to a photo of Cary Elwes from The Princess Bride, showing how similar they look.

NChick (VO): Yeah. Yeah, no, no, I see what you did there, movie.

A clip from Cutthroat Island is shown.

NChick (VO): So what can I say about Modine's acting? Or anyone's, really?

Shaw: Thing is, I was born poor. My only choice was to become a thief and a liar.

NChick (VO): It sucks. All of it. Everyone. It's almost like nobody gave a shit. Imagine that.

NChick: Important to note also that Party A (a photo of Geena Davis is shown) was married to Party B (a photo of Renny Harlin is shown). Party B being the director, Renny Harlin, who also directed The Long Kiss Goodnight...

A poster is shown of The Long Kiss Goodnight.

NChick (VO): ...starring Geena Davis, which I guess was his least bad movie.

Back to Cutthroat Island.

Morgan: What gave you the idea that I was a lady?

She shoves a knife up a rich man's ass.

Rich man: MEH...!

NChick: Oh, did I mention that our pirate main character was a (uses her fingers as air quotes) lady?

She pretends to pop a monacle off her eye, making a "pop" sound effect.

NChick: See, that was my monacle (repeats the "pop").

NChick (VO): And they feel the need to address the issue of gender, and that can lead into cliché pretty quickly. And really, you don't have to, depending on the tone you're going for, like, again, with (shows a clip of...) Pirates of the Caribbean. Like, who are you, Zoe Saldaña?

Anamaria: You stole my boat!

NChick (VO): Why do you own a boat that Jack apparently stole? Movie doesn't explain this? You're not in any of the other movies? Okay, whatever. Doesn't bother me.

NChick: So, in Cutthroat, the only thing that they really have at stake, besides that treasure, is the fact that Geena Davis wants her crew to take her seriously despite the fact that she's a woman. But, you know, they never really go there with the gender issue, they kinda go there without going there. It's a very whiskey-dick approach.

The cover of a book about Grace O'Malley is shown.

NChick (VO): And the thing is, it's not like there weren't historical...

NChick: ...awesome female pirates. Instead of made-up Geena Davis pirate, we could've had a movie about Grace O'Malley.

A sketch of Grace O'Malley is shown, followed by a statue of her.

NChick (VO): Revolutionary pirate queen of Ireland who did all sorts of awesome Robin Hood shit against the English during the Elizabethean Domination of Ireland.

A poster for Boublil and Schönberg's "The Pirate Queen" is shown.

NChick (VO): That could make an awesome movie.

Text is shown below: though apparently not a good musical.

NChick: Eh, it's lame.

Morgan: Then since you lie so easily, and since you are so shallow...

She picks up a roach-infested piece of bread, flicks the roach off, and eats the bread.

NChick (VO): (as Morgan) I eat bread with a roach on it; that means I'm a badass.

NChick: Geena's take on badass pirate is less badass pirate than cool aunt.

Morgan: We'll fight him for it! We'll join with Mordecai! Two ships against one, you should like them odds!

NChick: (as "Aunt Morgan") Hey, since your mom's out of town, I could take you to go see a movie... that's rated "R"!

Morgan: (as a prostitute; to a pirate trying to frisk her) Sweetheart, all that costs money.

NChick (VO): You can't even don an accent, Geena Davis? You're pretending to be a whore; everybody knows whores are Cockney. See, there's no menace in her performance, there's not really any camp, either; she's just... there. Like the way she responds to having a bullet removed from her body.

Morgan: ...Spanish goldship. Ow!

Shaw: Sorry.

NChick (VO): (imitating Morgan) Ooh! Ow, that smarts! Ooh! Ow! Okay, bullet's gone? Sweet, let's have sex while I'm still bleeding from the thorax.

A clip from The Curse of the Black Pearl is shown.

NChick (VO): One of the things that makes Pirates of the Caribbean work is how grimy it looks. All those gross nautical details.

Back to Cutthroat Island; the ships are shown.

NChick (VO): This film just reeks of a soundstage. Like, look at this! Look at this! Mighty clean well-kept ship for a bunch of pirates. Every ship has been freshly-painted. And then with this gaping, probably fatal wound in her chest, she's reacting to it like it's a bothersome mosquito bite.

Morgan: Ow!

NChick: Not to mention Geena's consistent triumphs against... gravity.

Morgan and Shaw fall through scaffolding.

NChick (VO): (as Morgan) Ha ha! Nice try, gravity! Once again I escape unscathed!

Dawg throws Morgan off a cliff; Shaw catches her.

NChick (VO): (as Morgan) Aha! My ally gravity wouldn't so much as think about ripping that man's arm out of his socket.

Morgan and Shaw fall off the cliff; it's revealed to be very high.

NChick (VO): (as Morgan) Ha ha, gravity! This time I defeated even more unlikely... (normal) Uh... hmm. Wow.

A wave crashes over them, somehow breaking their fall.

NChick (VO): Yeah, no.

Morgan emerges from the water, somehow alive but bloodied.

NChick (VO): No, you're dead. You are not alive, you're dead. I hate to break it to you, but you did not survive that fall. And look at you, you look like you just fell off your bike!

NChick: Ugh! (clenches fists and speaks through gritted teeth) Try to say something nice about the movie. (normal) Um, I like Geena Davis in other movies. I-- I really like Frank Langella in other movies. Um... there's gotta be something--

Morgan's pet capuchin monkey King Charles is shown.

Morgan: Will you take my orders now?

King Charles salutes.

NChick (VO): Oh, the monkey saluted! Okay, movie improved 500%. And then the monkey saluted and the movie was saved.

The battle in the climax is shown.

NChick (VO): Oh, never mind, the fight scene's about to start; so, here, the fight scene in the third act.

A shot shows two ships side by side, firing cannons at each other.

NChick: Does this shot seem familiar?

A similar shot is shown in The Curse of the Black Pearl.

NChick: So either this image of two pirate ships firing cannons at each other is highly engrained in the popular consciousness... or this movie just ripped off a Disney ride.

Scenes of both Cutthroat Island and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl are shown.

NChick (VO): You'd be amazed at how long it just goes. Actually, it's not the length that's so bad; really, the 40 minutes of nonstop fighting at the end of Cutthroat Island is about on par with the exact same thing in Pirates of the Caribbean. The big difference between these two different sets of 40 minutes are well-developed characters with established motivations, or lack therof, engaging in interesting conflict. Like, who cares about the treasure? The movie certain doesn't and we don't even find out what happens to it.

NChick: So the problem with the last 30 minutes of action scene is the movie has built up nothing that we... care about.

NChick (VO): Not even decent, tense action sequences.

Morgan swings onto a ship and is about to kick a pirate.

NChick (VO): (as pirate) Yeah, I'm just gonna let you kick me in the face.

A scene of Dawg is shown.

NChick (VO): I haven't even really talked about Frank Langella's performance.

NChick: At least Langella's trying, you know, he's-- he's been in some bad movies, but, you know, at least he's like, you know, "Go hard or go home".

Dawg: I love this! I LOVE IT!

NChick: Hey, I said he was trying; I didn't say he was good.

Dawg cuts a rope holding Morgan in the air.

NChick (VO): But effort alone can't save a role this shallow.

Dawg groans loudly in frustration.

NChick (VO): (as Dawg) Ugh! Why did I chop her rope so she could safely land on the cushy thing?!

Morgan falls onto a tarp covering barrels.

NChick (VO): (as Morgan) Aha, once again, my ally gravity has come to my rescue.

NChick: So at the very end of the battle between Morgan and Dawg, there was a moment where I almost kinda got engaged. So I'm going to take you on my emotional journey. (whispers) Come with me.

Morgan holds a torch against Dawg.

Dawg: You're planning to fight me with that little stick?

Morgan: No, uncle. With THIS!

She pulls back a tarp, revealing a cannon aimed right at him.

NChick (VO): Oh my god, that's actually kind of cool.

Morgan lights the cannon.

Morgan: Bad Dawg!

The cannon goes off, striking Dawg dead and sending his corpse flying backwards.

NChick (VO): Never mind...

Morgan is on her ship, with a massive pile of treasure.

Morgan: No-one ever fought harder for anything.

NChick (VO): Or longer.

NChick: All pirate movies, more or less, have the same plot: "There's a treasure, we're going after it, you know, there's a twist in the middle somewhere, there's a mutiny towards the end of the second act, and then we fight for 30 minutes."

A montage of clips from Cutthroat Island are shown.

NChick (VO): I mean, you could go outside, walk the dog, do your taxes, drive to Charlotte, walk the dog... again... in a different state...

NChick: ...come back and have missed no vital piece of information. Or... anything.

NChick (VO): Besides a treasure, the only possible emotional driving force is... the dad, and, you know, I don't care about her dad, and she doesn't seem to care about her dad. They're not exactly standing in for principles, the right to love or whatever, there's nothing at stake except that both sides are fighting over this treasure, and, you know, who cares? What's the outcome if either side wins? These pirates get rich, other pirates get rich, Commodore Norrington (Governer Ainsley) gets rich, and then they buy more tea. S-- see, this is how you know that they're evil.

NChick (VO): (as Governor Ainsley) Yes, we set up this entire tea party just to fuck with you, Matthew Modine.

NChick: I presume that Geena Davis didn't want to get typecasted into romantic leads like other A-list Hollywood starlets at the time, like Meg Ryan or Sandra Bullock, so that's kinda why they had this weird phase with her, trying to make her an action star, and I guess I can respect that, not wanting to be typecast, it's just kind of a shame it didn't pan out differently.

NChick (VO): But the quality of the movie itself makes a lot more sense when you find out that nobody in the movie wanted anything to do with it. And make it they did, sinking every penny they had on crappy explosion after crappy action scene after crappy explosion.

Morgan: I must visit that shop again, when I have more time!

NChick: But if nobody wanted to make this movie, and Carolco had already gone belly-up from Showgirls, why make the damn thing? I mean, plugs get pulled in Hollywood all the time, greenlights get reddened, this shit happens, why make a movie when nobody that had anything to do with it wanted anything to do with it? Tell me.. script.

She lifts up the paper.

NChick: (reading) They had already secured the funds from their foreign investors and Geena Davis and Renny Harlin were contractually obligated to make this movie.

She looks towards the camera, widening her eyes; a flashback of the NC Muppet is shown.

She looks to the left; in the flashback, the NC Muppet opens its mouth.

NChick: Oh, I get it--

A caption reads: Written by Lindsay Ellis (with help from Elisa Hansen, Paw Dugan, Todd Nathanson, Dan Roth); Bumper Art by Phillip Murphy (; © 2012 Chez Apocalypse. "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" by Veggietales plays in the background.

The NC Muppet is shown talking on the phone.

NC Muppet: 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I think we all know what was going on in--

The phone drops out of the muppet's hand.

NC Muppet: My phone. Excuse me.

He reaches down and grabs it again.

NC Muppet: Plot hole gets really good reception apparently.

The phone slides out of the muppet's hand again, landing with a crash. The muppet looks at the camera, shaking furiously.


Another take, the muppet leans towards the camera.

NC Muppet: This is the weirdest cameo you ever asked for.

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