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RUNNING TIME: 96 min
- Up the Creek: The Making of Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling
- Furious Nuts
- Treehouse Tales
- Deleted Scenes
- Gag Reel
It’s the sequel to a movie that is shares almost nothing in common with.
Director: Ellory Elkayem
Writer: Stephen Mazur
Cinematographer: Thomas L. Callaway
Cast: Will Cuddy, Oliver James, Amber McDonald, Jerry Rice, Madison Riley, Rik Young
Ben, Zach and Nigel set off to find Nigel’s long lost step sister Heather, who has been lost in the woods for years, thought dead. While there, they find themselves hunted by mysterious men, attacked by wild squirrels and confronted by a strange man named Hal Gore, who happens to look exactly like Jerry Rice. This isn’t a National Lampoon picture, but it sure wishes it were.
Ben and Zach were best friends forever in high school. They stood up for each other when the bullies came knocking and had each other’s backs when they faced girl trouble. One bout of this girl trouble came when Ben, the self conscious nerdy type, fell for Heather, a girl at his school who was a vegetarian and vocally protested animal dissections. His hope for love came to an end when she was expelled for causing a ruckus in the science lab.
Cut to a number of years later and Ben is now a lawyer who hates his job while Zach is still a party guy while working as a nurse in a convalescent home. A patient in the home asks Zach to help her locate her granddaughter Heather, who disappeared into the woods years before, never to be seen again. Zach agrees and enlists the help of his old friend Ben to go with him. The elderly woman’s step grandson Nigel tags along and the three set off into the strange and dangerous woods for a series of mishaps and shenanigans.
Now, you may be asking yourself where the cast from the first movie are. Surly, even bad sequels like Still Waiting brings back the lesser cast member like Luis Guzman and Alanna Ubach. Filmmakers would be forgiven not being able to bring back key cast members such as Dax Shepard, Matthew Lillard and Seth Green, but this movie shares absolutely no connections with the first outing.
The director and writer of this movie are also new cast members with no connections to the first film. Director Ellory Elkayem directed the very good Eight Legged Freaks while writer Stephen Mazur wrote the Jim Carey hit Liar Liar many years ago. Neither man found lightning in a bottle with this recent effort. With no returning cast members and a new creative team, how is this movie even a sequel to the 2004 film?
One simple answer – it isn’t.
In the making of, the producers mention they were trying to figure out some way to connect the two movies and chose the “tree girls.” This tells me they were only using the original movie as a way to sell their film, in which the only similarity is three guys go into the woods and don’t know how to survive. This was done better in the original flick because the cast was decent and their acting sold the movie. I would rather see the guys in this movie end up in Deliverance land then where it goes.
The Heather the group is searching for is the same Heather Ben fell for in high school. She is now living in the woods, a literal tree hugger known as Earthchild with a friend named Thunderstorm. They live in a giant tree house in the woods implementing a strong vegan lifestyle. This could lead to some great things, but in much the same way horror movies have been decimated by the PG-13 Rating, this teen comedy has suffered the same fate. In this movie, you need a Rated R romp in much the style of National Lampoon to give you some reason to watch it. Without nudity, I can’t think of a reason to watch this movie.
Ben is also being tracked by some mysterious figures who might be members of a mafia family that holds a grudge for not helping get them out of trouble. There is a small twist revealing who is tracking them but that doesn’t even give you a small reason to watch it. The worst part of the movie has to be the ridiculous CGI animals, such as hummingbirds and squirrels, that is meant to be funny but is just completely stupid. Or maybe the worst part is the acting of former San Francisco 49er receiver Jerry Rice as Al Gore’s brother, Hal Gore. The guy is not an actor and when he explains that squirrel’s farting causes global warming, you realize the movie is not funny. At all.
Up the Creek: The Making of Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling (10:32) Actor Oliver James even admits to having never seen the first movie and chose not to watch it because he didn’t want his comic styling to be anything like the first movie.
Furious Nuts (07:01) – This is a mockumentary where they discuss the options for squirrels in the movie. The first choice was signing a former A-list actor to dress in a giant squirrel costume. Unfortunately, he went method, was hard to work with and disappeared. The second choice was to use actual wild squirrels. That had bad results. The third choice was to use a “squirrel actor” named Milton. It was too bad Milton was so jaded, because he would have been perfect if not for the bad attitude. Everyone involved agreed that squirrels suck. This feature might have been funnier than the actual movie.
Treehouse Tales (03:20) – This is a featurette that discusses the tree house from the movie.
Deleted Scenes (01:09) – These are less deleted scenes then just minor lines cut from already existing scenes. It’s the most pathetic deleted scene reel I’ve ever seen.
Gag Reel (05:27) – There is no real humor here, but at least it looks like Jerry Rice was having fun.
4.7 out of 10