*1/2 (out of 5)
February 1, 2008
Steve Zahn as PETER GAULKE
Allen Covert as FRED WOLF
Jonah Hill as COOKER
Kevin Heffernan as WHITAKER
Ashley Scott as CHERYL
Peter Dante as DANNY GUITERREZ
Harry Hamlin as SKY PIERSON
Robert Patrick as GUS HAYDEN
Directed by: Fred Wolf
BY KEVIN CARR
Like the coming of the apocalypse, there were many signs that “Strange Wilderness” would be a terrible film. First, it wasn’t screened for critics. This is rarely a good sign, as studios tend to be scared of critic reaction to certain films. But this comes from a studio (Paramount) that usually doesn’t shy away from screenings. So, if they were scared of this film, it’s a solid warning.
Second, it’s a Happy Madison production, which is Adam Sandler’s company. However, Adam Sandler is nowhere near this picture. Instead, it’s populated by the usual gang of idiots that fill the supporting roles in his other films.
While I liked “Grandma’s Boy” (another Sandler-less Happy Madison comedy), at least that one had Rob Schneider in it. The fact that Schneider didn’t even allow his mug to be used in “Strange Wilderness” shows the level of suckage this movie is capable.
Director Fred Wolf is a former writer for SNL, which isn’t always an endorsement. After all, you can probably remember more bad sketches over the years than good one. But add to the fact that he wrote godawful David Spade vehicles like “Joe Dirt” and “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star,” and you have a dangerous mix.
Anyone who has watched the trailer to this movie has seen the buck-toothed shark footage, with a voice over of a guy literally making stupid sounds. While this is a funny clip the first time, they use it over and over and over again in the trailer. If you need to pad out the trailer with an overused funny clip, there’s a problem.
So, was this film as bad as the trailers made it out to be? Absolutely.
The story follows Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn), whose father ran the king of all nature shows. When his father died, Peter took over the show, but his incompetence and his slacker crew brought the show to ruin. To avoid being cancelled, the crew of “Strange Wilderness” embark upon a quest to find Bigfoot and breathe new life into the show.
I’m not saying that no one will enjoy “Strange Wilderness.” I think if you’re one of those guys who fries his brain on drugs all day long, you will probably find this hilarious. However, I doubt many people are going to find it funny without some sort of chemical help.
I can honestly say that with the exception of David Arquette’s “The Tripper,” I haven’t seen a film that appeared to have the cast and crew on drugs throughout the entire pre-production, production and post production.
The script is a meandering sort of stagger that falls face-first onto potentially funny jokes but never stays in focus. It’s as if everything were written and performed while the writers and actors were high on dope, then they woke up the next morning to see the finished product only to realize it just isn’t funny if you aren’t stoned.
I’m sure they had a blast making this movie. But then again, so did the coked up cast and crew of “DC Cab.” The problem with having too much fun on the set is that the final product turns into one giant “I guess you had to be there” inside joke.