Fox // 1995 // 85 Minutes // Rated PG
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // March 19th, 2003
They wanted a great adventure.
What they got was "Mad Max" Grabelski.
Delivery man Max Grabelski is your typical big city loser. He dresses as if he's perpetually stuck in 1979. He walks to the beat of the Bee Gee's "Staying Alive." Yes, Max is a grade-A moron...and if he's not careful, he may just end up a dead moron. When Max tries out a get-rich-quick scheme under the guise of his deliver job, he finds that his plans for an early retirement take a sudden turn for the worse when he's framed for the murder of a wealthy client (Anthony Herald, The Silence of the Lambs). On the run with nowhere to turn, Max inadvertently is mistaken for the leader of a Boy Scout-like group of young boys who are heading on an overnight adventure into the woods. Assuming the role of a respected, successful scout master, Max finds himself in over his head as he attempts to stay one step ahead of the authorities (including the bumbling Jon Polito, Black Mask 2: City of Masks) and one step behind such wilderness dangers as grizzly bears and bee's nests. With a little luck -- and a few tugs at his heartstrings by the young scouts -- Max will prove his innocence once and for all.
It's been quite sometime since I've seen a movie as painfully unfunny as Bushwhacked. Here is a film that gasps for laughs like a dying, flopping fish on the beach. Daniel Stern has solidly earned himself a place in the "Most Annoying Film Character" Hall of Fame with his portrayal of "Mad Max" Grabelski. Stern mugs, yelps, hollers, whines, bugs his eyes, and flails so often that he appears to be breaking six major blood vessels in the process. His character is so over-the-top -- so undeniably unfunny -- that I actually felt bad for the tall lug. With a supporting role in Billy Crystal's City Slickers and the narrative voice for The Wonder Years, Stern has produced some winning characters. With this single effort Stern wipes his slate clean and begins anew at zero. There are, of course, many other reasons why Bushwhacked is DOA -- the snotty children are as endearing as curdled milk, the storyline slim and witless, and the direction by Greg Beeman uniformly flat. There are only so many times we can see a man scream in fright because of bears, cliffs, bugs, et cetera before the effect loses its luster. If you find jokes involving a grown man not knowing the difference between a pine cone and a bee's nest funny, then this movie is for you -- and you should seek psychological help. The lingering question in my mind is "who was the film made for?" With far too much swearing and raunchy humor to be acceptable for small children, and not enough laughs or zingers to keep teens or adults entertained, Bushwhacked is lingering in cinematic limbo. Everyone involved with the production of this minor tragedy should be forced to spend a week in the mountains with only a DVD player and this movie keep them company.
Bushwhacked is presented in two options: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame. The widescreen presentation looks good, but is certainly not great. There are a few blemishes that pop up from time to time on the print, as well as some edge enhancement and softness in the image. While the colors and black levels are all solid and well saturated, overall this is an only passable print of the film. The soundtrack is presented in a mediocre Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround mix in English, Spanish, and French. A few surround sounds exist (as when a plane flies by), though the bulk of this mix is front heavy with little in the way of dynamic range. All aspects of the mix are free and clear of any excessive hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English and Spanish subtitles.
Thankfully, the extra features on this disc are rather insubstantial -- all the viewer receives are a few theatrical trailers for Bushwhacked and other Fox family titles.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1995
MPAA Rating: Rated PG
* Theatrical Trailers