Paramount // 2008 // 87 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Steve Power (Retired) // April 13th, 2009
They could solve nature's biggest mystery, if only they had a clue.
I must admit, I was looking forward to sitting down with Strange Wilderness. I'm always up for a good laugh, and I'm not above scraping the bottom of the loony bin for some cheap entertainment. I laugh hysterically at 90s crapola like Dirty Work and Baseketball and the first three Police Academys get semi-frequent replay in my house. By the 20-minute mark of Strange Wilderness, I kind of felt a little like Col. Willard in Apocalypse Now, sitting on the deck of PBR Street Gang, headed into Cambodia, into the heart of darkness. The same phrase kept running through my mind, "I asked them for a mission. And for my sins they gave me one."
Strange Wilderness tells the sordid tale of one Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn, Sahara), who's dad had a popular nature show called "Strange Wilderness." Well, dad died, and now it's Peter's show. Unfortunately for all involved, Peter sucks at running a nature show. With the show in the crapper, and the big-time public funded animal show (that's obviously run by a condescending scumbag) moving in, Peter and his not-so-lovable band of drug-addled boneheads have two weeks to find a way to save the show. It turns out that an old friend of Daddy's might have just the solution, a map detailing the whereabouts of none other than Bigfoot! So the dopey gang hops into their decrepit old RV with no money, no plan, and no sense, and sets out to find Bigfoot and save their pathetic little show. Holy crap! Is that Earnest Borgnine!?
I like Steve Zahn, the guy plays the "charming-loser" persona very, very well, and does an admirable enough job here, but beyond that, there's nothing at all in this movie. Strange Wilderness is a bunch of slop thrown at a wall, it's pushing the taste-throttle beyond the redline hoping that something is going to click or stick. You want a violent shark attack on a guy dressed as a sea lion? An abnormally large turkey with beak firmly attached to erect genitalia? Several people vomiting into the mouth of a giant great white as it blasts up out of the water chasing a rib-eye on a fishing line? A psychotic Vietnam vet with a gaggle of war stories about his bizarre scars? It's all in there, and each and every scene falls flat. Strange Wilderness, you see, just isn't funny. It's strange all right, downright bizarre at times, and completely ridiculous, but it doesn't elicit much more than a chuckle at the best of times.
The supporting cast doesn't help matters. Jonah Hill (Superbad) pretty much riffs his way through the movie, and this foulmouthed little dweeb never fails to annoy the ever-loving bejeezuz out of me. His "closet homosexual with paternal issues" shtick is played out before the film even gets rolling. Justin Long, another guy who could have a decent career in comedy, is definitely smarter than his stoned out bong-smoking hippie cameraman character would have you believe, and here he's all but wasted. Throw in the token attractive blonde, and a friend or two for Peter to alienate in the second act, and you have all the trimmings of a 90-minute snoozefest. Seriously, you want funny? This isn't it. You want to laugh at the absurd while you suck down a dozen or so apple bongs with your patchouli-scented buddies? It might fit the bill. Then again, anything that isn't daytime soaps could probably help you there (I hear CNN is a laugh riot with some THC in your system.)
Paramount gives us Blu-ray folk a fine, pristine print if nothing else. The film looks flawless, nary a speck of grain to be seen. The Dolby TrueHD mix sounds good, with some decent separation when the music kicks in. Basically you have yourself a perfectly solid audio/video presentation, if only you had audio and video worth the effort.
The extras department is a little sparse. You get all of the stuff from the DVD, ported over in standard DVD resolution, and what's there isn't much. You get a look at the ridiculously horrible turkey scene, probably in more depth than you cared to go. Jonah Hill gets to perform his "song" in complete form while Justin bops along like a Seattle teen at a Nirvana concert in 1992, and the urge to hop on a plane, track down Hill, and punch him in the head rises with every 10 seconds the scene plays. Finally you get a glance at some improv, and more Jonah Hill riffing (seriously, why the hell do people hire this obnoxious jerk?) This also leads us to the single funniest moment on the disc when Justin Long catches screen legend Ernest Borgnine (did I mention he was in this?) off guard by questioning him about a sexual encounter with Mama Cass. The visually rattled Borgnine can do nothing but laugh, he's having a good time, and truth be told, the whole crew looks like they're having a ball. That's grand, at least someone's having fun, as watching it was no damn picnic. Also included is a horrid EPK style promo that looks as though it was recorded for Comedy Central, and it is no less painful than the film.
Strange Wilderness is a very, very bad movie. It isn't funny, it isn't entertaining, it's just stupid. It's 87 minutes of your life you will never see again. It has a zero percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes for Pete's sake! No one likes this movie! Why are you even reading this?
The horror! The horror!
Review content copyright © 2009 Steve Power; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* TrueHD 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Running Time: 87 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes