Published On: Thu, Jun 15th, 2017

‘Out to Sea’ is Still the Best Cruise Comedy


PHOTO: There have been some classic flicks taking place on cruise ships. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)

With its unintentional lampooning of one of the world’s finest luxury lines, some might argue that “Speed 2: Cruise Control” is the all-time best comedy film devoted to cruise travel.

However, the crown must actually go to “Out to Sea.” Both movies came out in 1997, but only one can stand the test of time as a classic.

You never could go wrong combining the comedic antics of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, and the gem that emerged from the pair onboard Holland America Line’s earlier Westerdam could be described as “Grumpy Old Men at Sea.” While the film is not in that same series nor does it fall between the “Odd Couple” films, it’s certainly an unofficial cinematic cousin.

This time around, Matthau’s bachelor character has concocted a scheme to convince Jack Lemmon’s widower to come along with him on a “free” cruise to meet eligible ladies. Only, Lemmon does not realize that Matthau has signed the two of them up as dance hosts in order to receive the much-reduced fare.

Needless to say, he does not find their indentured servitude pleasing, especially since Matthau’s character cannot dance.

The Westerdam in the film is the line’s second originally built as the Homeric for Home Lines, (now serving as the Thomson Dream for Thomson Cruises). Even though the ship has not been with Holland America since 2002, exterior shots are genuine from when it still was in the fleet. Interiors are a mix of the actual ship, some sets and Cunard Line’s Queen Mary—permanently moored in Long Beach, California and doubling for the Westerdam.

READ MORE: Cruise Travel for Film Fans: Movie Locations and More

As the characters arrive at their cabin, they discover how small it is, with Lemmon delivering one of the film’s greatest line’s in response to Matthau’s optimism: “It’s cozy? A good fart will give you a concussion!”

While staterooms have gotten bigger since, relatively small accommodation size remains one of the more relatable jokes of the film, and, at the very least, the quote certainly still applies to one too many showers—not Holland America’s, however.

Before long, the cast adds a list of wonderful supporting players. Among the heavy hitters are Dyan Cannon, Gloria DeHaven, Brent Spiner, Elaine Stritch, Hal Linden, Donald O’Connor, Edward Mulhare and Rue McClanahan.

READ MORE: Seabourne Cinema: The 6 Best Cruise Ship Theaters

Brent Spiner’s self-absorbed cruise director character is another standout. It was great to see him break out a bit from playing Data for years on “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and really show off his comedic chops. (It was also a pleasure to be able to meet him in person once at Comic-Con International and express as much to him.)

His condescending banter with Lemmon and Matthau is some of the best of the whole film. Any cruiser who has memories of hyperbolic lounge lizards from back in the day will certainly appreciate watching him announce himself onto the stage.

Some of the cruise dialogue is cliche, sure, but plenty is hysterical enough to keep you wanting more. My friend and colleague Aaron Saunders and I constantly quote the movie to each other whenever we sail together, and we’re both millennials who you might not first expect would love such a film. But alas we do.

Of course, I can’t spoil too much for you. If you haven’t already seen it, you’ll have to just watch it for yourself. Unfortunately, doing a quick search shows that it’s out of print on DVD and unavailable on Netflix.

Coming to the rescue, however, is Amazon Video where it can be purchased or rented for streaming.



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