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Film / The Boat

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Amazingly, it gets worse.

Eight bells and all's NOT well.
Opening title

Family man Buster Keaton wants to take his brood on a cruise in his homemade boat, but first he has to get it out of the basement and afloat, and then...Hilarity Ensues.

Long-believed lost until collector Raymond Rohauer found it amidst a cache of rare Keaton footage. Although salvaged, it shows distinct signs of decay.

"The Boat" contains examples of:

  • Artistic License Physics: At one point, the river they're sailing on literally runs uphill.
  • Brick Joke: Just before the boat is launched, we see its name painted on the prow: "Damfino." Much later, a bad situation becomes worse when Buster is asked the boat's name and his answer is misunderstood.
  • Cool Boat: The masts and smokestack of the Damfino are collapsible, for passing under low bridges. This is actually Truth in Television in some parts of the world, but obviously exaggerated here for comic effect.
  • Death by Materialism: Averted — Buster cuts the rope between his boat and his car (which is towing the boat) and lets the car fall into the harbor to save one of his sons from being crushed. He hesitates, though.
  • Didn't Think This Through
    • Getting the boat out of the basement, which has no exits large enough to accommodate it.
    • Driving nails into the hull below the waterline.
    • Drilling a hole in the bottom of the boat to let the water out.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The wife's first attempt to christen the Damfino leaves the bottle intact and the keel dented.
  • Help, I'm Stuck!: Buster accidentally lowers a smokestack over one of his sons.
  • Human Ladder: Buster acts as one for his son as they're trying to climb back on board the Damfino.
  • Iconic Item: When The Hat floats past after the sinking of the Damfino, Buster's wife and kids bow their heads in mourning.
  • Iconic Outfit: How do we know those two boys are Buster's sons? Their hats match his.
  • Instant Convertible: Subverted — the Damfino was built with collapsible masts and smokestack.
  • Irony: For a boat, it's not very good at keeping above the waterline. The same goes for the life preservers. The only part of the boat that manages to stay afloat is the anchor.
  • Law of Disproportionate Response: Buster seems far more perturbed by the loss of his lifeboat (which he promptly replaces with a bathtub) than the collapse of his house.
  • Lethal Chef: The pancakes are too tough to cut, and Buster uses one to patch a hole in the hull.
  • Painted Tunnel, Real Train: Evoked when Buster nails a seascape to the cabin wall and water begins running out from beneath.
  • Poor Communication Kills: When Buster radios for help and is asked the name of his boat he replies "Damfino", and the coastguard assumes it's a prank call.
  • Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony: Specifically, a ship christening, complete with bottle. It goes as well as everything else involving the boat.
  • Visual Pun: One of the sons pulls the plug on the family's attempt to escape drowning.
  • Who's on First?: Don't name a boat after something that can be misinterpreted as a Prank Call.