- Rated R
- Buy the BD
All photos © Paramount Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
t’s not very often that you see a movie so bad you’d rather watch the Paris Hilton rom-com “The Hottie & the Nottie” a second time, but that’s exactly the case with “Strange Wilderness,” the latest from Adam Sandler’s Happy Madison production company. Not even Rob Schneider would dare associate himself with this humorless garbage heap of a film, and he’s loyally served as a Happy Madison bottom feeder for years. Instead, that honor has fallen to more talented B-listers like Steve Zahn, who looks so far out of his element that he couldn’t save this sinking ship if he tried.
Zahn stars as Peter Gaulke, the son of a wildlife show host who has managed to transform his father’s primetime program into a late night ratings failure. Given two weeks by the station director (Jeff Garlin) to turn the show around or suffer cancellation, Peter and his band of misfit crewmembers (including Allen Covert, Justin Long and Jonah Hill) embark on a trip to South America to uncover the secret hiding place of Bigfoot. When the journey takes a turn for the worst, however, the crew must rely on a little dumb luck to track down the mythical creature and save the show.
From recurring gags about joke-shop hand buzzers to dreadfully unfunny set pieces involving gay turkeys and guys named Dick, there’s not a single redeemable moment in the entire film. The script (if there even was one) is so lazy that the two main characters are actually named after the writers. The fact that one of them is Fred Wolf, the former head writer of “Saturday Night Live,” might be surprising if he weren’t already responsible for some of the worst Happy Madison films ever made. Then again, Wolf also wrote “Black Sheep” and “Dirty Work" (a personal guilty pleasure), so it’s not like the guy can’t be funny under the right circumstances.
Unfortunately, Wolf’s been handed the keys to the whole operation this time around, and though he’s spent the better half of the last 10 years pimping himself out on the latest Adam Sandler movie set, he doesn’t know the first thing about making a feature-length film. Then again, maybe he’s not to blame, but rather Sandler himself for continuing to produce these second-rate comedies. The movie clearly isn’t any good (it was shot nearly three years ago), so why has it suddenly been deemed worthy of a theatrical release? Quite simply, because some of its stars (like Jonah Hill and Justin Long, who has maybe 10 lines in the entire film) are more bankable names following the success of “Superbad” and “Live Free or Die Hard.” That has to be the only reason, because I can’t imagine anyone involved actually believed this sorry excuse for a movie would ever see the light of day.
Single-Disc Blu-Ray Review:
The Blu-ray release of “Strange Wilderness” includes all of the same extras from the original DVD including the usual suspects (deleted scenes, obligatory Comedy Central promo special), as well as a few production featurettes that offer a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film. The best of the bunch, however, is a short featurette on the construction of the infamous stunt turkey, but don’t expect to find anything worth laughing at here – the extras are just as dull as the movie itself.