Bros in a Boat
Two Guys Adrift at Sea Plan an Epic Disaster Movie
As young white guys Davey and Duck try to come to grips with the fact that they're lost in the ocean in an inflatable raft, and that a rogue wave probably killed everyone else on the pleasure boat they were on, they start with an attitude of callow American optimism. They reckon they'll be fine with a few small bottles of water, a few packets of emergency food, and the assuredness that someone will notice their absence soon. Plus, they have a fishing line, even if they're lacking bait. "We didn't catch anything all week," Duck (Ryan Sanders) says doubtfully. Davey (Mike Mathieu) crows back, "So we're due!" The basic tension is established: We know these goofballs might be dead within days, even if they don't.
To pass the time, they invent Hollywood blockbusters, including Nightswimmers (a mermaid-themed Twilight rip-off) and Reactor Pulse (a disaster movie starring Matt Damon). By negotiating the plots, they negotiate their larger relationship and the things they don't talk about. Both agree that the Damon character should be married and having an affair, for example, but Duck wants it to be a homosexual affair, because maybe the character has some deep and mixed-up feelings he just can't explain to his friends and family. The swaggering, girlfriend-stealing Davey asks if Duck (the shier and more sensitive of the two) is trying to tell him something. Duck shrugs off the question.
As their food and water run lower, and as they start to blister in the sun, they begin to approach bald honesty—revisiting and apologizing for past wrongs, etc.—but never quite get all the way there. Even their life-and-death decisions, like who'll get the last of the rations, involve dissembling, some of it noble and some of it selfish.
Setting a two-character drama in an inflatable raft sitting motionless on a stage is a theatrically risky maneuver, as is Mathieu and Sanders's decision to direct themselves. (Though both have some success with self- direction—Mathieu as one half of the Stranger Genius Award–winning duo the Cody Rivers Show and Sanders as part of the sketch-comedy group Ubiquitous They.) As a result, The Raft suffers from some moments of static dullness. But the way Davey and Duck keep dancing around their feelings, and the strong visual images of the movies they're inventing—earthquakes, car wrecks, fistfights—keep the show afloat.