WITHOUT A PADDLE
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
Seth Green as DAN MOTT
Matthew Lillard as JERRY CONLAINE
Dax Shepard as TOM MARSHALL
Ethan Suplee as ELWOOD
Burt Reynolds as DEL KNOX
Directed by: Steven Brill
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Dan, Jerry and Tom (Seth Green, Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard, respectively) are three boyhood friends who just learned that their fourth friend was killed in an accident. After attending his funeral, the trio of misfits decide to finish the treasure hunt that their friend had started more than a decade ago. The gang travel to the woods of Oregon to follow a treasure map, encountering natural threats (like bears and waterfalls) along with human ones (like redneck drug dealers) as well. Along the way, the three men find themselves and rediscover their friendship.
WHAT I LIKED
The re-release of films on new video formats can often be a good thing, especially for someone in my position. Years ago, I saw “Without a Paddle” on DVD, and I wasn’t terribly impressed. Whether this was my mood of the day or my personal tastes at the time, I remember the movie as not being too good. However, several years down the road (and a “Without a Paddle” sequel in the stores), I had a chance to revisit this film in its new release on Blu-ray.
I have to say that “Without a Paddle” was much better on a second viewing. Perhaps I had reluctantly accepted Dax Shepard as a comedic actor. Or maybe I have been a bit removed from the Matthew Lillard overdose Hollywood suffered in the mid 2000s. Whatever the case, I found myself enjoying this film to a certain degree.
Having aged five years myself since watching this film, I have a bit more nostalgia for the old days. Five years ago, I wasn’t searching for old high school buddies on Facebook, and I hadn’t yet discovered the joys of reconnecting. Sure, this film wasn’t about social networking sites, but it does help me relate to it better. After all, I may not have had an Indiana Jones compass like the kids in the film, but I had plenty of cheap trinkets that have become priceless in my middle-age.
In general, Shepard, Green and Lillard have good chemistry in a movie, and this bodes well considering there are three characters to play off each other rather than just two, a more comfortable fit traditionally. The film is just a silly piece of fluff that has a decent heart. And it offers a certain degree of adventure and excitement (and some hot girls in a tree, which is always welcome for me).
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
Although I have become a bit numb to Dax Shepard and Matthew Lillard, they still get on my nerves a bit. Seth Green is the superior comedic actor in this movie, and it’s clear in this film. However, the other two sometimes steal the spotlight from him.
At times the film does tread close to mean humor, but not as much as I originally remembered it. Plus, it does try to juggle all the boys’ stories, giving each one something to overcome. I know that’s how the Hollywood script-writing process does things, but I really found myself not caring whether Matthew Lillard’s character was ever going to patch things up with his girlfriend back home.
This Blu-ray disc has some excellent special features, including two different commentary options. First, director Steven Brill provides an audio commentary for the film. There is also a video commentary featuring Brill and the cast, which pops up as a picture-in-picture screen at the bottom of the frame. Sure, this is just an audio commentary in which you can see the speakers (much like the old Howard Stern television show), but it gives a second option, which is always nice.
There are thirteen deleted scenes with optional director commentary, an MTV “Making the Movie” featurette as well as six interstitial spots that were aired on MTV during the film’s initial release. Finally, to take full advantage of the Blu-ray format, the theatrical trailer is available in high definition.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
College buddies who want to revisit their youth.