Strange Wilderness

Brodie Fanns!

New review for your reading pleasure. I don’t know what’s in store for the blog-o-dome this week. But, you’ll know it when I post it.

Strange Wilderness

2.5 stars

Could we really expect the latest offering from the guys who brought us Grandma’s Boy to be a masterpiece? No. But was it funny as hell? Yes. And no.

Faced with struggling ratings and competition from a hipper, more knowledgeable show, the cast and crew of the long running Strange Wilderness, a wee hours of the morning nature documentary show, make one last ditch effort to save their beloved TV program, started by star Peter Gaulke’s father. They embark on an international road trip to hunt Bigfoot, who has been found in Ecuador of all places.

The cast is anchored by Steve Zahn, and he slips perfectly into a role he probably would have done about 10 years ago, but at this point he seems out of place in this stoner/slacker flick. Happy Madison Production regulars Peter Dante and Alan Covert are right at home playing character-types that have brought them a huge cult fan base throughout the years in just about every Adam Sandler flick ever made. While comedic child prodigies Justin Long and Jonah Hill seem to be wasting their talents on a film that is far beneath their talents they have previously demonstrated in Accepted and Super Bad respectively.

I don’t think it’s really fair to fault the cast for the film being unfunny. Because in all actuality, the scenes in the film are not unfunny. But this is where the age old maxim about a film’s director comes into play. The saying goes that a film really has three directors: the writer, the director and the editor. And if you want to get really technical, you could add the cinematographer into the mix, but we’ll just stick with these three. Writer Peter Gaulke (yes, he named the main character after himself) has had moderate success with some of the most mediocre to awful comedies of the past 10 years (Me, Myself and Irene, Say It Isn’t So), while director Fred Wolf (former head writer/cast member of SNL) is marking his feature film debut. But I think the problems of this film lie with the third director. The editor, Tom Costain.

Like I said, it wasn’t an unfunny film. The scenes individually were hilarious. It’s a very quotable film. And the actors did some damn funny work, including the intentionally unintentionally funny Robert Patrick (T2: Judgement Day) and the always good for a laugh Joe Don Baker (Mitchell). Yet while the cast is a weird amalgamation of the Happy Madison, Judd Apatow and Broken Lizard (Kevin Heffernan) camps, which should lead to great comedy, it falls apart in the editing.

It feels like term paper written over a Red Bull and Hot Pocket fueled all-nighter. It’s convoluted, hastily put together, rushed and sometimes makes little sense. It’s like Wolf filmed a very funny movie, then Costain put it on his shelf, sat down with his bong for about a month, then realized it had to be shipped to theatres in week, and spent all night cutting the thing from memory. There were times when I was left wondering if it was a joke they were playing on us. Like they had cut the real movie, then decided to make a second version of the same movie, only using all the deleted scenes and blooper reels.

And it’s sad, because Grandma’s Boy was such a great cult classic. Luckily, most of the negative backlash will be going to Happy Madison, while Apatow’s crew and Broken Lizard should escape relatively unscathed.

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