Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Director Steven Brill.
Video commentary by the cast and director. MTV's Making the Movie:
Without A Paddle. 13 additional scenes. Optional director commentary.
THE title of this comedy version of Deliverance and Stand By
Me serves as an appropriate metaphor for the film itself - given
that it feels so desperate for laughs as to be in need of a paddle
Seth Green, Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard star as three childhood
friends brought back together following the untimely death of
a fourth colleague, who resolve to complete a childhood pact -
namely, to journey into the Oregon Wilderness in search of the
lost treasure of a former bank robber.
Needless to say, things don't go as planned. The boys begin
by insulting the local sherriff, then head off in a canoe under
the dubious expertise of Shepard's life-long loser, who is a self-confessed
It's not long before an amorous grizzlie has almost had his
way with Green, devoured the boys' phone, and they find themselves
being chased halfway up a mountain by some idiotic rednecks, who
just happen to be drug dealers too.
En route to the inevitable meaning
of life discoveries and cementing their friendships, the trio
also encounter two earth women and Burt Reynolds' reclusive hermit,
whose appearance might have been a nice touch were it not for
the wretched quality of the script.
Everything about director, Steven Brill's movie, smacks of desperation,
though, given the laboured quality of most of the jokes, and the
overall lack of subtlety.
All of the Deliverance references are obvious and seem like an
excuse to toss in countless homophobic jokes, culminating in an
almost obligatory scene involving the trio naked and forced to
huddle together for warmth, while nods to the rights-of-passage
movie, Stand By Me, are too blatantly sign-posted.
Of the leads, Lillard appears to be taking things a little too
seriously and reigning in his manic energy, while Green is likeable
enough, but doesn't get to stretch his comic potential.
Which means the bulk of the comic material is left to Shepard,
who comes close to rivalling Taxi's
Jimmy Fallon for sheer annoyability.
Save for the odd thin laugh, the film quickly becomes an onerous
affair which doesn't even have the good grace to end well, veering
into full-blown action-adventure territory before bending over
backwards to deliver its happily ever after denouement.
Audiences are therefore advised to give this particular comedy
a wide birth, or find their funny bones smashed amid the rapids
of this inept caper.