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STUDIO: Paramount Pictures
MSRP:
$28.98
RATED:

R
RUNNING TIME: 84 Minutes
SPECIAL
FEATURES:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Cooker’s Song
  • The Turkey
  • What Do We Do?
  • Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness

The Pitch

A
misfit crew of wildlife documentary television filmmakers who have sullied
their show’s once good name are given one last chance to resurrect their
careers when given evidence of Bigfoot’s lair. A quest and hijinks ensue.

The
Humans

Director:
Fred Wolf

Writer:
Fred Wolf, Peter Gaulke

Cinematographer: David Hennings

Cast:
Steve Zahn. Allen Covert. Johan Hill. Kevin Heffernan. Ashley Scott. Peter
Dante. Harry Hamlin. Robert Patrick. Joe Don Baker. Justin Long. Jeff Garlin.
Ernest Borgnine.

The Nutshell

Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production
company unloads a scattershot comedy that gives his buddies Allen Covert and
Peter Dante big roles and attempts to mine the considerable comedy talents of
folks who’ve proven themselves in other comedies. It’s a good idea. On paper.

The
Lowdown

If you were to tell me that Broken
Lizard’s Kevin Heffernan, the sneakily brilliant Steve Zahn [Out of Sight
and Happy, Texas
alone grants him eternal love], the surprisingly deft Justin Long, and Jonah
Hill [who’s great but needs to cut back on bad extended cameos like in Walk Hard
and Forgetting Sarah Marshall] were going to be headlining a comedy
together I’d tell you it’s an unmissable venture.

Then
tell me that it’s a Happy Madison product and watch me spin around and
disappear like a dispatched villain in a Final Fantasy game. At least there’s no Rob Schneider
to worry about this time around. Still, Strange
Wilderness
is at best a hit and
miss affair and at worst a huge missed opportunity to allow some really funny
men to strut their stuff. That said, an R-Rated comedy featuring these people
can’t be all bad, right?

Right?



The concept of taking a group of
misfits and throwing them into a wacky situation is one of the cornerstones of
comedy and though Bigfoot’s not as funny as he used to be [thanks for killing
that, Tenacious D], there’s plenty of fun to be had here. Of course, this isn’t
a Ricky Gervais or Christopher Guest film so slapstick rules the day.

These are all deadbeat and
one-dimensional characters, and the burden is placed on the ensemble rather
than any one or two particular actors. Zahn gets the brunt of the physical
tasks whether having his dick bitten or having manic outbursts at every turn of
bad luck. Luckily he’s good at that kind of humor and given some decent foils.
Justin Long is the stoner of the group, though that aspect of the character
becomes less focal and he’s more around to look funny and help illustrate the
lack of intelligence in the group. Somehow it works, and that’s no small part
due to Long’s incredible comic sensibilities. He’s always entertaining and
seems best utilized around scene stealers like Jonah Hill. Hill is off his tit
in this film, employing a bizarre accent and dialogue like at the top of this
article. Sometimes he comes on too strong but some of the better moments
involve his character, Cooker. I was truly excited to see Kevin Heffernan [as I
love Broken Lizard more than most things] in a different dynamic but for the
most part he’s not given a lot to do aside from reprise a scaled down version
of his existing characters. I am not even close to being an Allen Covert fan
but since he’s relegated mostly to straight man duty I didn’t find anything to
complain about. Peter Dante however, is a comedic albatross. Here’s a guy who
should spend less time in the gym and more time in acting school.


Ernest
Borgnine, Jeff Garlin, Joe Don Baker, Harry Hamlin, and especially Robert
Patrick are wasted. It’s a shame because aside from stunt casting element, they
could have provided some nice counterbalance to the ADD going on in the film’s
plotting and what it finds funny at a given time. Ideas are presented and
abandoned in favor of a quick visual gag and the overall premise seems to
become secondary to the filmmakers as the whole “save the show” and
Bigfoot elements are dealt with almost arbitrarily [though I do admire the
frivolous fate of the mythical* creature].




The
movie’s at its best when allowing the little moments a chance to shine through.
A line of dialogue or some of the truly funny voice-over narration Zahn adds to
the nature documentary footage rather than when it tries to cater to the
Sandler fan base. There are some funny moments, but you have to endure quite a
bit of extraneous stuff to get to it. There’s a really good little comedy
wanting to come out here, what with the decent budget and the great supporting
cast. Sadly, the adversarial foil in Harry Hamlin is excised early on and the
great buildup of Robert Patrick as a master tracker is set up and abandoned.
What’s left is a few nice moments and some funny people enjoying a paycheck.

There’s a great comedy to be made in the concept of a group of nutty people traveling across the continent to film a Bigfoot documentary though. Strange Wilderness is harmless and infinitely
better than some of the shit we’re handed under the guise of comedy but it’s
hard not to wish they’d let their ambition overrule the umbrella of Sandler
which seemingly keeps them from having to try too hard to be more than simply
serviceable. Kudos to the casting department and few others.

The Package

There are some deleted scenes, none of which that
possess the missing elements to elevate the film from being watchable to worth
recommendation and though the film clocks in at under 90 minutes there’s no
reason to pad it. There’s also a weirdly uncomfortable and unfunny featurette,
but the real selling point is the few clips where we see the cast riffing with
their lines, primarily Justin Long and Jonah Hill. There’s some funny stuff,
not the least of which being when Long asking Ernest Borgnine’s character if
he’s finger fucked Mama Cass.

In
anyone’s book, that is brilliant.

Still,
the special features aren’t enough to warrant the purchase but they aren’t all
bad either.



6.0
out of 10



* He’s fake.
Get over yourself.