A/V Room









Without A Paddle (12A)

Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

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. Theatrical trailer.

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 itself.

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 liar.

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.


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