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WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

December 31, 2008 by  



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“Definitely more nuttier than the original film, ‘WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING’ features the beautiful wilderness, killer squirrels and legendary football player Jerry Rice.  Oh My!”

Images courtesy of: © 2008 by Paramount Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING

DURATION: 90 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 2009, Color, PG-13, 1080P High Defintion, English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD, Subtitles: English/English SDH!/French/Spanish/Portugese

COMPANY: Paramount Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Crude Sexual Humor and Language)

Directed by Ellory Elkayem

Screenplay by Jay Legget, Mitch Rouse, Stephen Mazor

Story by Fred Wolf and Harris Goldberg & Tom Nursall

Based on the Picture WITHOUT A PADDLE

Produced by Amy Goldberg

Executive Produced by Donald De Line

Director of Photography: Thomas Callaway

Production Designer: Mimi Gramatky

Edited by John Gilbert

Costume Designer: Shawnelle Cherry

Line Producer: George M. Engel

Music by Thomas Chase Jones

Casting by Nancy Nayor Battino, C.S.A.

Starring:

Oliver James (as Ben)

Kristopher Turner (as Zach)

Rik Young (as Nigel)

Jerry Rice (as Hal Gore)

Madison Riley (as Heather/Earth Child)

Amber McDonald (as Thunderstorm)


If you thought the first trip was wild, get ready for the craziest adventure yet! Everything that can go wrong does go wrong when two best friends (Oliver James & Kristopher Turner) and one zany Brit (Rik Young) venture out into the wilderness in search of a high school sweetheart. It’s the wettest, wildest, and most squirrel phobic road trip since Lewis & Clark! On this trip, the stakes are higher, the river is wilder and the creatures are nuttier!

Nuttier than the original!

Truly an accurate description of the film “WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING”, the second film based on the original 2004 movie “WITHOUT A PADDLE”. This time around, featuring a new story and a new cast starring Oliver James (What A Girl Wants) and Kristopher Turner (Instant Star).

The film is also the first comedy for director Ellory Elkayem (known for a few horror films which include the 2005 “Return of the Living Dead” films) and a screenplay by Stephen Mazur (“Liar Liar”, “Little Rascals”).

The story begins with a young Ben and Zach, freshman in high school.  Ben is somewhat a good, clean cut, nerdy teen.  While his friend Zach is more cool and mischievous.  At the first day of school, Ben instantly falls for the school activist Heather who is a vegan and against the cruelty of animals. After signing a petition to join her cause, for Ben, it’s love at first sight.

While trying to impress her the following day sporting a “Meat is Murder” t-shirt, Ben is ambushed by two bullies but thankfully for Zach, the two get into a fistfight with the bullies.   While recuperating in the nurse’s office, Ben sees Heather and she blows a kiss to him and from that point, Ben falls in love.  Despite Heather being expelled from high school for trying to free the lab animals.

Fast forward nearly a decade later and Zach is working at a nursing home and Ben is now a busy lawyer.  Ben and Zach have not really spoken with each other.  Zach continues to be a cool, playboy but cares about the people in his life, while Ben is more into working as a lawyer and never has time for anything.  Zach has always tried to get in contact with Ben but Ben is too busy to talk.

One day, one of the women that Zach takes care of is dying and she has one last wish, to see her granddaughter one last time.   She begs Zach to find her in Oregon.  Of course, Zach is a bit reluctant but when he sees the picture of the granddaughter, he realizes it’s Heather, the girl that Ben was obsessed with in high school.

Zachary finds a way to get Ben to leave his workplace when he shows him the picture of Heather and Ben figures maybe this time, as an adult, he will have the guts to tell Heather how he feels after all these years.

So, Ben, Zachary and Nigel (the grandson of the woman looking for Heather) go on a trip to Oregon and learn that Heather is a hippie named Earthchild and went to the wilderness with her friend Thunderstorm.  But they never came back and have not been seen since.   Thus are assumed as dead by the locals.

Having come this far, Ben and Zachary decide to not heed the warnings from the locals to not go into the wilderness and eventually get caught up  in an adventure that takes them through beautiful lush terrain, with the immense trees in the wilderness, riding a raft through the rapids with nothing but two kegs, matches and Nigel’s darts and not packing any food or anything else, it’s definitely, an adventure that the three will not forget.

Adding some chaos to their adventure are killer squirrels, Hal Gore (football legend, Jerry Rice) and mysterious guys who have their eyes on the Ben, Zach and Nigel.  Who are they?  Despite their obstacles of trying to survive in the wilderness, will they find Heather in time?

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING” is presented in 1080P Hi-Definition.  Definitely one of the major positives of the film is that this movie was shot in location in the wilderness.   The vibrant colors of the blue sky, the green and fall colors of the trees really look quite beautiful.   So, watching this film on Blu-ray was quite nice because the majority of the film is shot outdoors.  With that being said, there is quite a bit of grain present (which is expected since this is a film afterall).  But not too distracting.

As for the audio, the audio features an English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD track.  Although the film is primarily dialogue driven, there are some instances where the music and the action scenes does utilize your rear surround speakers.  Although recorded outdoors, I don’t recall hearing the wilderness ambiance but when the music comes on, it’s well presented.  During the gunfire scenes, you hear that clearly and quite pronounced as well.  But otherwise, the film is primarily dialogue-driven.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

Another plus is that the majority of the featurettes are presented in HD.  The special features on Blu-ray are as follows:

  • Featurette: Up The Creek: The Making of Without A Paddle: Nature’s Calling HD – Interviews with the cast, producers and the director.  A fun featurette and it’s interesting to hear Oliver James speaking with his British accent and even talks about how he is able to shut it off (courtesy of watching many American cartoons, TV shows and films in the UK).
  • Featurette: Furious Nuts HD – An interesting featurette that plays on the squirrels.  More of a humor-based featurette for viewers who want to know how the squirrels were cast for the film and how the squirrels were so demanding.
  • Featurette: Treehouse Tales HD – During the film, the treehouse becomes a major part of the film and you get to see how the treehouse was created.
  • Bloopers – A gag reel of several bloopers throughout the film.  If anything, this gag reel gives an idea of how Jerry Rice was in his first major speaking role in a film.
  • Deleted Scenes – Featuring four additional scenes that didn’t make it to the final cut:  How’d He Do That?, Attack the River, Let It Go and Treehouse Fight

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As most direct-to-video films that are based on major Hollywood films, “WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING” is one of those films that will appeal to fans of the original film or the actors that are on it.

I found “WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING” definitely much more nuttier than the first.  Reason being, is that with the first, I had more higher expectations (given the talent on that film) but with this film, all I was expecting was to be entertained for 90 minutes.

And I had a few laughs during the film, especially during the scenes that stars legendary wide-receiver, Jerry Rice who plays the part as Hal Gore.

Jerry Rice has his first major speaking role in this film and as a beginning actor, because of that, I think the delivery of his lines made things a bit more humorous.  His character has lived in the wilderness for so many years studying how squirrel farts have damaged the atmosphere, wearing nothing but squirrel fur and a bit long black beard, of course it’s campy and his delivery of his lines are just awful but somehow it worked and made me laugh.

And of course, quite a bit of adult humor, especially when the guys reunite with Heather (Earthchild) and her friend Thunderstorm.  Good playoff of humor between Ben, Zack and the two women.

Again, a major plus was that the film was shot outdoors, so seeing the lush surroundings of the wilderness and the group having to ride their raft through the river was fun to watch and it looked good on Blu-ray.  And it was also good to see that the featurettes were also featured in HD.

On the negative side, there were a few plot holes in the actual screenplay, some of the acting was so-so and the squirrels, they looked a bit too CGI for a film like this but nevertheless, it worked OK.

But in the end of the day, if I was asked the question, “were you entertained?” and the answer would be yes, I was entertained.  Did I love the movie, not really.  But I was entertained and definitely had a few laughs.

So, if you were a fan of the original “WITHOUT A PADDLE”, a fan of any of the talents of the film or just want to check out a comedy that takes place in the outdoors, then definitely give “WITHOUT A PADDLE: NATURE’S CALLING” a try.






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