(11 a.m. EST) -- If it sounds far-fetched that a cruise ship would "open" a film -- rather than perennial star turners like Julia Roberts, Russell Crowe or Meryl Streep -- credit Royal Caribbean with trying something new.
A pair of short flicks, "Royal Reunion," with James Brolin, and "The Allure of Love," with Jenny McCarthy, premiered last night aboard Royal Caribbean's star vessel, Allure of the Seas (and are now available for all to watch on YouTube, Royal Caribbean's Web site and on the in-cabin TV's on RCI's ships).
The premise: The pair of roughly 10-minute films were shot late last year. Brolin's "Royal Reunion" focuses on a somewhat dysfunctional, but very wealthy, Loft and Royal Suite-dwelling family and their efforts to come together for the parental unit's 40th wedding anniversary. McCarthy's "The Allure of Love" pits a couple that had recently broken up against their all-knowing pals, who lure them onto a cruise to reunite them.
Allure of the Seas may not have had quite the same life-or-death presence as did Titanic in that blockbuster spectacular, but it sure did figure in every scene (save for those shot on Labadee, Royal Caribbean's private island in Haiti). In welcoming the crowd to yesterday's premier event (an unexpected embarkation treat for some of this week's passengers, who were able to attend), RCI president Adam Goldstein noted that, "This is our entry into branded entertainment. It's in our DNA to do things innovatively and creatively and this is another chapter in our story."
Take a peek at the trailers:
"The Allure of Love"
The fact that none of the cast, including the films' actor-directors, managed to thank screenwriters in a long list of plaudits is a pretty good sign that these short films will not be short-listed for next year's Oscars. The premises, especially that of "The Allure of Love," were really quite flimsy and frankly overly promotional (it seems like that short drama was written by the same copywriter whose flowery prose fills RCI brochures).
And yet: The films were fun, particularly if you're the type -- as are we -- to be drawn to any flick with a cruise ship in it.
A few outtakes:
Silliest line. "In The Allure of Love," a sexy Jenny McCarthy, determined to show her ex "what he's missing," is photographing herself via Smartphone and uploading pictures to Facebook. As she snaps one, she says, "all this --," then shrugs, sexily, "is F-U-N!" Cringe.
Allure of the Seas as the next South Beach? While "The Allure of Love's" pool deck shots honed in on incredibly skinny model types to tempt McCarthy's love interest (who also, ridiculously enough, was posting Facebook photos of himself having oh-so-much-fun on a cruise), the comment by his onboard pal that, "We are in a world of hot!" was a bit over the top if you've ever been on a big-ship cruise. There are lots of gorgeous folks on the sun deck, mind you, just not many who fit Hollywood stereotype.
Does a cruise ship really have this much power? James Brolin noted that his film was realistic in that "people board a ship with a real family problem and watch the ship sort it out."
The cast and crew of "Royal Reunion" and "The Allure of Love" spent a week onboard to shoot their respective films. And of course we were intrigued by what bold-faced names, including actor-directors Brolin and McCarthy, Amy Yasbeck (the television series "Just Shoot Me"), Dean Cain ("Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman") and Caroline Lagerfelt ("Gossip Girl") liked about cruise travel.
We're not sure Brolin, after his week onboard, is a big fan. Trying to describe what cruising was like for him, he said, "If you lock your wife and dog in your car trunk, who's going to be glad to see you when you let them out an hour later? That's kind of the same thing with boats." (It's perhaps relevant to point out that his wife is, of course, Barbra Streisand, though she was not actually onboard.)
Dean Cain's obvious enthusiasm, when asked about his favorite aspects of Allure of the Seas, was moving: He was in Vintages, for wine and tapas, almost every night. He also shared that his concern, before taking this, his first cruise, was about the fact that the ship -- moved. "I was a bit reticent [to take part in the movie] because I was afraid I wouldn't be comfortable at sea," he told us. "[But] there was no movement whatsoever thanks to Captain Johnny's [Faevelen] driving."
Young Chelsea Ricketts (well, 21 years old is young), who played a daughter in "Royal Reunion," told us all that she'd already been on seven cruises before boarding Allure to make the movie. "I've never been on a ship like this one," she exclaimed enthusiastically, and noted that her favorite activities onboard were all outdoor ones like the FlowRider, zipline and rock-climbing wall. "I didn't go inside," she said.
While all was fun and sun at the yesterday's premiere, the production, bankrolled by Royal Caribbean, does create a precedent that is going to be uncomfortable for some.
Are these entertaining films that will get people who've never considered a cruise excited about the possibilities? Or are they a deceitful effort to position a 10-minute commercial as "entertainment"?