After establishing himself in The Nineties
as America's premier prop comic, "Carrot Top" Scott Thompson made the jump to feature film with 1998's Chairman Of The Board.
Carrot Top stars as Edison, a failed inventor and surfer dude who lives with his two surfer buddies, Ty & Zak, in southern California, constantly convinced he's invented "the pet rock of the 90s." No company ever invests in anything he comes up with, and he's stuck wandering from one dead-end job to the next, constantly facing the wrath of his landlord, Ms. Krubavitch (Seinfeld
's Estelle Harris) One day, he comes across an old man who's having car trouble, helps him with the repairs, and goes surfing with him.
That old man was Armand Macmillan (Jack Warden), who is so inspired by Edison's penchant for inventing that, some time later, after his death, it is revealed that he left Edison his invention corporation, Macmillan Industries, in his will. Armand's nephew, Bradford (Larry Miller, in full Smug Snake
mode) is left Armand's "most prized possession," his surfboard. This boxes his plans to inherit, and then sell, the company for millions of dollars, and he concocts a scheme to hustle the company out of Edison's hands. Meanwhile, Natalie Stockwell (Courtney Thorne-Smith), the Vice President and overseer of production, finds herself frustrated, yet oddly charmed by this new quirky chairman.
This was Carrot Top's first and only starring role, as the film drew less than $200,000 at the box office and infamously received open mockery on Late Night With Conan O'Brien
thanks to Norm Macdonald
(in the middle of Courtney Thorne-Smith's interview
). Carrot Top was nominated for a Razzie for Worst New Star (while co-star Raquel Welch was nominated for Worst Supporting Actress), and Chairman Of The Board
still frequents IMDB's Bottom 100 to this day. Most famously, it got a reference from the first Austin Powers
movie where, while looking through various folders of evil plots, Austin comes across one labeled "Carrot Top movie.
" Needless to say, Carrot Top hasn't done too many movies since.
Tropes associated with Chairman Of The Board include:
- Accidental Misnaming: Meta-example. Carrot Top accidentally calls Courtney Thorne-Smith by her real name during a scene in a museum.
- Adam Westing
- Chekhov's Gun: The Glow Gunk. For night surfing! And for framing Edison.
- The "bullshirt," a lie-detecting dress shirt.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Edison.
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Cool Old Guy: Armand. "You surf?!"
- Crash into Hello: How Edison meets Natalie, while covered in post-its. Oh yes.
- Deadpan Snarker: Larry Miller easily has some of the best lines in the movie.
- Easily Forgiven: Edison responds to an impending strike (after foolish budget cuts on his part) by giving employees a stake in the company and starting "Luau Wednesday." Not only does that easily satisfy everyone, he gets featured on the cover of Forbes as a result.
- Evil Is Petty: Bradford is a major Jerkass and he takes any opportunity to live up to that standard.
- Failed a Spot Check: The Eureka Moment near the climax when Edison realizes Bradford used Edison's own invention, the Glow Gunk, to frame him for a faulty product, thanks to a man hired by Bradford to claim Edison's product gave him radiation poisoning. That's right - he couldn't recognize his own creation.
- For that matter, how come no one ran tests on the man on TV to verify his claim?
- False Friend: Bradford confirms this right to Edison's face after Edison is removed as chairman.
- From Bad to Worse: On the day Bradford finally usurps Edison as the chairman, Edison returns home to find himself evicted.
- Gadgeteer Genius
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Carrot Top later admitted in interviews that he wanted the movie to be a lot more "blue" but the producers insisted he keep it clean. However, the trope still wound up averted as various other profanities slip through from the older cast members - one member of the board tells Bradford to "jerk me off and meet me at the moon!"
- I Just Like Saying The Word
Bradford: Now get out. You're fired.
Larry: Aren't we all laid off anyway?
Bradford: Yes! I just love saying it. GET OUT! YOU'RE FIRED! [chuckles]
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: To go with Edison's even tackier house, of course.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Edison strikes this up with Armand, after which he passes away and Hilarity Ensues.
- Large Ham: To his credit, Carrot Top really goes for broke in this movie, but to many critics it came off overbearing.
- Not helped by the wide-angle close-ups in constant use throughout the movie. Surely Ernest would be proud.
- Man of Wealth and Taste: Bradford.
- Meaningful Name: Edison. You know, like that other inventor guy.
- Mistaken for Servant: Edison shows up in the board room for the first time only to get coffee orders from everyone at the table.
- "You the new trainee?" "Actually, I inherited the company!" "HE'S EDISON?!"
- Ms. Fanservice: The tennis instructor, played by 90s it-girl Cindy Margolis.
- No Indoor Voice: Edison shouts every other sentence in a high-pitched squawk.
- Noodle Incident
Zak: What'd you really have to do to Armand to get this place?
Edison: Nothing like what you did to Ms. Krubavich last summer to cover the rent.
Zak: Hey, how'd you know about that? I dreamt that happened!
Ty: That's right, man. God bless ya, you took one for the home team on that one.
For sure! [Beat
] I think I'm gonna be sick.
- Running Gag: Bradford's car getting dinged and Edison "repairing" it.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Edison gets a particularly bitter one from the head of "Gadget City," who says in no uncertain terms that his inventions "suck." Edison responds with "OKAY, ONE MORE AND I PROMISE I'LL GO!"
- Smug Snake: Bradford.
- Surfer Dude: Edison and his roommates. Zak in particular is a Pauly Shore Expy, big time.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Bradford has this view of everyone at Macmillan Industries... well, really, most everyone he meets.
- Take That: Edison buys his housemates a box full of copies of John Tesh' Greatest Hits, which they promptly use for skeet shooting.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Briefly, when massive success goes to Edison's head.
- Totally Radical