Today we'll be watching The Navigator, a 1924 silent comedy starring Buster Keaton.
Buster Keaton is a rich dandy who gets it into his head that today he'd like to get married. He proposes to the girl across the street, but she promptly turns him down. Dejected, he makes plans to embark on his honeymoon cruise alone. This is why, as you rule, you always ask the girl before you book a honeymoon.
But luckily for Buster, he and his ladylove are, by a series of contrivances, trapped on a ship alone together as it drifts out to see. They've got quite a little domestic thing going on there too...until they happen upon an island full of cannibals!!!
(To be fair though, we don't actually know that they're cannibals because they never actually eat anyone, nor to they allude to eating people or carry any people-eating paraphernalia. They're just brown foreigners who live on an island and our lily-white sailors just sort of connect the dots. Is it still xenophobia if it's 1924?)
Anyway, they may not be cannibals but they are definitely hostile, because they kidnap the girl while Buster's under water fixing the ship. We are treated to the image of Buster Keaton in a diving suit scaring off hordes of "cannibals" just because of how peculiar he looks. And I'm not going to lie...it's a definite highlight.
All's well that ends well, though. They're quickly rescued by a submarine that just happened to be in area, and the girl is so taken with Buster's heroics that she gives him a chaste little kiss. Which promptly causes him to almost crash the submarine.
- "I think I'll get married." Oh, well as long as you've thought it over.
- They're on the boat for like 20 minutes running around in circles, hilariously just missing each other. OMG will one of you please just stand still and wait for the other to find you??!!
- OK, he keeps touching the pot filled with boiling water. How is he not burning himself? And why does he have such comically large utensils?? No, sir...something about this doesn't add up at all!
- Aww they're so cute in their little sailor suits!
- I amused by her trying to sleep, then seeing that creepy portrait staring at her. I don't know how it managed to get hung outside Buster's porthole, but it is a funny gag, credit where credit's due.
- OK, a few weeks ago this guy couldn't open a tin can. Are you sure you really want him fixing the ship?
- I love that he brought a Danger: Men at Work sign with him underwater as he repairs the ship. I find that kind of absurdity a lot funnier than the more slapsticky physical gags.
- OMG the cannibals are not using a palm tree to scale the side of the ship. What is this tomfoolery???
I swear I don't mean to hate on Buster Keaton, because there really is a lot of his stuff that I genuinely enjoy. But to me, this movie reads like they were able to get this big expensive set piece and jumped at the opportunity without considering whether or not it all would be funny.
I might just have to concede that some of the humor in this film is just not for me. I don't understand the appeal of, "haha, he can't make eggs!" or "haha, that chair's broken!" Which is weird, because it's not like I don't like Buster Keaton. I loved Sherlock Jr. I guess I just prefer humor that's a little more subtle and character based, rather than a ton of slapstick. Buster's a great comedian, and I think the humor works better when he's generating the jokes, not his surroundings.
That is just one girl's opinion though. I know there's lots of people that love this one.
Want a second opinion? Here's some other reviews that I found on the interwebs!