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Strange Wilderness - comedy DVD review
STRANGE WILDERNESS Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 2 stars
Actors: Steve Zahn, Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Allen Covert, Harry Hamlin, Joe Don Baker
Director: Fred Wolf   Studio: Paramount
DVD release:20 May 2008   Runtime: 84 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Subtitles (English, Spanish, French), Audio (Dolby 5.1 Surround - English; Dolby Digital Stereo - Spanish), Cooker's Song, What Do We Do?, Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness, Additional scenes

Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) is the terrible host of the show Strange Wilderness, a show once admirably hosted by Peter's father. Peter lives in his father's shadow, never quite equal to his talent.

To be honest, he doesn't even try. He's surrounded by incompetents. His sound man, sidekick, and scapegoat is Fred Wolf (Allen Covert). Peter and Fred actually write scripts for Strange Wilderness on bar napkins the night before filming (Peter and Fred are named after the writers of the film, who may have also written this film on bar napkins the night before). The production assistant, Cooker (played by Jonah Hill, excellent in Superbad and a bright spot in this film), is not terribly effective in assisting the production. Justin Long plays Junior, a part-time cameraman and full-time pot smoker. Junior takes over for his uncle Milas (Academy Award-winner Ernest Borgnine), who worked for Peter's father. Milas is full of encouragement and fatherly advice, but unfortunately doesn't get enough screen time to sort out this sorry lot.

Strange Wilderness (the show within the movie) sucks so much that their ratings in the 3 a.m. slot are falling. Their network is going to axe them, but they have two weeks left. Peter naturally hopes that he can change their mind in that time by scoring the holy grail of nature show fodder: Bigfoot. Peter knows a guy, Bill Calhoun (Joe Don Baker), who has a map to Bigfoot's current address in South America. The race is on as competing pretty-boy nature show host Sky Pierson (Harry Hamlin) has the same map. Whoever gets the interview first wins.

On the way down (I thought Bigfoot was up north), there is persistent drug use, swearing, a song or two, a cringe-worthy encounter with a turkey, and glaring ignorance about nature. It could have been 90 minutes of mindless humor, but instead it's 90 minutes of stupid jokes that don't quite hit their mark. The people involved have proven they can be funny, so I'm not sure what happened here. Perhaps being a moron just doesn't pull the weight it once did.

There are some funny bits, but not enough to pull this clunker out of the mud. I wouldn't be surprised if this film doesn't hit a mark among the chronic users of the chronic, but for the sober crowd, it may be too unfunny to watch. The most amusing parts are the stock footage of wildlife with the ignorant voiceovers. Unfortunately, these are not seen often enough to make a difference.

Skip it unless you're tired of endlessly watching Half Baked with your bong and stoner friends.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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