Strange Wilderness

Steve Zahn stars in a film that’s supposed to be about the crew of a wildlife television show, but looks more like a bunch of guys wandering around in the plastic foliage of Disney’s Jungle Cruise ride pretending to see monkeys. Strange Wilderness is the worst sort of comedy, the kind that doesn’t even try.

They’ve wrapped their half-hearted shenanigans around this: Peter Gaulke (Zahn) is the son of a famous naturalist, and when his father died he took over as the host of his show Strange Wilderness. Except Peter doesn’t really know anything about animals, and knows even less about shooting a television show. That doesn’t stop him from making one, but the show’s ratings are slipping and to save it he needs to do something big. Luckily, Peter thinks he knows where to find Bigfoot. So he packs up his half-crazed production crew and heads for Ecuador in a last ditch attempt to shoot something worth showing on television, thus saving his father’s show from cancellation.

Mostly, this is all one big excuse for a bunch of guys to wander around stoned in various locales. This is not funny, and whenever something happens in the film which might have been funny, Strange Wilderness has this strange way of sucking all the life out of it. For instance seeing Steve Zahn run down the street with his pants around his ankles while a wing-flapping live turkey hangs off his penis should have at least some comedic potential. But not in this movie. It’s lifeless.

The problem here is that no one seems to care. It’s somewhat baffling that they were able to put a cast like this together for such an intentionally awful project. This is an incredibly talented group, all of whom have done at least decent comedic work before, and all of whom apparently only did this movie so they’d have an excuse to hang out on a movie set and smoke dope while getting paid for it. At least that’s my explanation. Jonah Hill singles himself out as the absolute worst part of this ensemble. He plays his dim-witted character as if he’s doing a junior high school kid’s impression of Chris Farley doing an impression of a generic, one-note mountain man. He’s offensively bad, and if I ever bump into him again I may take a lead pipe to his scrotum. I don’t care how good he was in Superbad, it doesn’t make up for this. It’s the only fair way of exacting my revenge.

Not that the rest of the cast is much better. They’re all phoning it in. Justin Long, who nearly stole Live Free or Die Hard right out from under Bruce Willis this summer, just sort of stands around with his mouth hanging open. Ernest Borgnine, who I seriously thought was dead, is the only person involved in the film who hangs on to his dignity, but only because he’s barely in the movie.

Everyone involved with this production should be fed to an angry, Ebola infested shark. A bunch of comedic actors, who should know better, got together on a stage somewhere, smoked some weed, shot themselves reading lines someone wrote on the back of a cocktail napkin, laughed about how they were going to put their names on the poster and trick people into seeing their piece of crap flick, and then went home to bed. The end.