February 2, 2008

Movie Review: Strange Wilderness

If one doesn't get you then the next one will. What I mean by the one are bad comedies, movies by extension but in this case the focus is on comedies. I was able to restrain myself from spending money on The Comebacks, and after handing money over for both Date Movie and Epic Movie I reached a breaking point and found myself railing against the release of Meet the Spartans. It was from the same guys as those first two brain cell killing "comedies" I mentioned.

Now along comes Strange Wilderness. On paper this one would seem to have some more going for it. For one, it has some decent cast members. Secondly, It has Happy Madison behind it. Yes, as goofy and childlike as Adam Sandler can be, one would think that he would know which scripts were the right ones to back. Having now seen Strange Wilderness I can report that it is not worth seeing, despite the talent it contains. It belongs on the same level and regarded with the same bile as Date Movie and Epic Movie. You can even add an early title the list of awful comedies, as the trailer for Superhero Movie played prior to this misbegotten mess.

The story is a simple one, told using the tried and true method of the framing flashback even when said tool does nothing to enhance the story. In that sense, it is much like Mad Money, movies that make use of narrative tools that make no sense when used with the context of their respective movies. The flashback opening is only effective when used to tell a story that has a twist in it. I don't know about you, but I seriously doubt that most people going into Strange Wilderness are going in anticipation of a twist.

The story follows Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn), son of a deceased wildlife show on a small local television station. Following the death of his father Peter attempts to keep the show going, but low ratings are driving them off the air, especially when a hotshot (Harry Hamlin) shows up with his own show. In a desperate attempt to save the show, he obtains a tip that would make their show legendary and finally bring him the respect he thinks he deserves. That tip points him towards South America and the home of the legendary Bigfoot.

So off he goes, team in tow, in search of the mythical creature. His team is made up of a variety of losers and potheads played by the likes of Jonah Hill, Justin Long, Allen Covert, and Kevin Heffernan. Also along for the ride is Ashley Scott as Cheryl. I am not sure, but I am guessing she is their travel agent? Well, their "jobs" don't really matter so much as their presence is needed to spur along the comedy, or what passes for comedy. The comedy involves bad voiceovers accompanying stock animal footage, numerous pot and sex jokes, and bad physical gags.

As I sat there watching the mess unfold before me, I began to think about what makes dumb comedy transcend its dumbness and become inspired lunacy (or something like that). There was another movie that popped into my head as I considered this question, Hot Rod. That is another movie whose commercials looked awful. Still, when I watched the sheer goofy and supremely dumb comedy of the Andy Samberg vehicle, I could not help but be completely sucked in as it proved to not be dumb like the commercials seemed to promise, it transcended expectations and revealed itself as a hilarious comedy.

Strange Wilderness never gets past the dumb comedy. I take that back, there was one bit that actually got me to laugh out loud. All I will say about this bit is that it involves a turkey. Aside from that brief segment there was not much to like. No matter how good some of the cast members have been in other films, they seemed to be adrift in a sea of bad jokes. It was almost like screenwriters Fred Wolf (who also directed) and Peter Gaulke were playing a bad joke on the cast, forcing them into these situations with little setup, devoid of any real comedy. They even went so far as to name characters after themselves.

Bottomline. Perhaps you need to be under some herbal influence to enjoy this movie, for I cannot see anyone sober enjoying this outside of the occasional giggle. It is a poor production all around with little that could be considered redeeming values. I was happy when the credits rolled and so will you, should choose to be parted from your money.

Not Recommended.


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