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Without a Paddle (2004)
Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/12/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 5/7/2009
This is going to sound very hypocritical, but I'm ready to give up on
mainstream film critics...at least when it comes to comedies. It seems that
about 75% of the time, when a comedy has been savaged by critics, I find it
entertaining. This goes beyond the assumption that these critics only like
"highbrow" films. I often have to wonder if they have any sense of humor
whatsoever. A case in point is the film Without A Paddle. To be fair,
this movie isn't the end all-be all, but it made me laugh. And isn't that the
Without A Paddle focuses on four childhood friends, Dan (Seth Green), Jerry (Matthew Lillard), Tom (Dax Shepard), and Billy (Antony Starr). This quartet was inseparable as children, but they have drifted apart as they've entered adulthood. Dan is now a doctor and quite neurotic. Jerry has a corporate job and a girlfriend, but he may lose both due to the fact that he'd rather be surfing. Tom is a slacker who drifts in and out of trouble. And Billy has become an adventurer. Dan, Jerry, and Tom are brought together again when they learn that Billy has died. After the funeral, the trio begin to reminisce and, after rummaging through their old clubhouse, remember that they'd once planned to look for the lost treasure of infamous 70's hijacker D.B. Cooper. As a tribute to Billy, they decide to take a trip into the wilds of Oregon to look for the treasure. Once they enter the wilderness, Dan, Jerry, and Tom find nothing but trouble, as they must battle a raging river, and many other dangers, both natural and human.
Without A Paddle brings a little more to the table than the average comedy. The movie does a surprisingly good job of mixing sophomoric humor with a more serious side, as the characters deal with the death of their friend and consider their childhood memories. Director Steven Brill has worked with Adam Sandler in the past (he directed Mr. Deeds and Little Nicky), so he's been around someone who has shown an ability to mix crazy humor and heart. But, let's not over-state the seriousness of this film, as it's not Stand by Me or The Big Chill. The vibe in Without A Paddle is closer to that of
The Without A Paddle Disc has a nice selection of extra features.
Director Seven Brill provides an OK audio commentary. He speaks at length about
the film's production and provides some insight into his working relationship
with the actors. But, he also rambles at times and spends a lot of time talking
about the things that he doesn't know or the things that he's never done. I'm
sure that when he heard the commentary for the first time, he wondered why he
admitted those things. There is an additional commentary which features Brill,
Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, and Dax Shepard. This is a "Video Commentary",
which means that every few minutes a small picture-in-picture box appears in the
top right corner of the screen which lets us see the group recording the tracks.
32 minutes into the track, Brill leaves and actors Ethan Suplee and Abraham
Benrubi joins the group. This is a very fun commentary track, as the group
reminisces about their times in New Zealand and constantly make fun of one
"MTV's Making the Movie: Without A Paddle" (18 minutes) is, of course, very slickly produced and contains many clips. It also has many comments from the cast & crew and some behind-the-scenes footage. The segment examines the cast and characters, as well as the stuntwork on the river. The Disc contains 13 ADDITIONAL SCENES, which total some 24 minutes. There is a PLAY ALL option, and the scenes can be viewed with commentary from Brill. There is some funny stuff here, but it's clear why most were cut. Also funny are the "MTV Interstitials", which are six very brief segments which contain footage not seen in the film. The extras are rounded out by the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long