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Without a Paddle: Nature's Calling

Movie title: Without a Paddle: Nature’s Calling (2009) ***
Grade: D- (1 star)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: Two former high school buddies go in search of an old beautiful schoolmate.
Spoilers ahead: No

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I have two good things to say about this film; it was clean viewing for young audiences, and the moral of the story at the end was good. But I have nothing else good to say about it.

Two friends, Ben (Oliver James) and Zach (Kristopher Turner), have not been as close since their high school days. Life managed to put some distance between them, but soon to come was a chance to relive some of those glory days. At his work at a nursing home, Zach meets an old lady who wants to hear from her granddaughter one last time before dying, so he convinces his busy attorney buddy Ben that the trip to Oregon to find her will be worth it because the girl they are seeking is his old dream girl from high school, Heather or “Earthchild” (Madison Riley).

The old lady sends along her grandson, a vanity-obsessed Englishman, Nigel (Rik Young) who only makes the two buddies’ journey more difficult. The three go on a trip in the woods of Oregon, her last known place, in search of Ben’s old crush and her nature-worshipping girlfriend, “Thunderstorm” (Amber McDonald). I guess the directors thought it would be flavorful to have the girls be nutty environmentalists.

While the whole movie is a joking juvenile escapade, made for “airheads” who play air guitars, asking out loud how two criminals find their way into the forest after the three guys is more than a valid question, but it is never answered. And as you might expect, the acting is way overdone, and midway through, it becomes so boring I thought I wasn't going to be able to sit through it. It wasn't funny, but it was stupid. You don’t have to take my word for it. There is a simple test to determine whether or not you will like it.

The squirrels in the Oregon forest are unlike any on earth we’re used to. They are freakishly intelligent and mean-spirited, and for some reason, are a match for humans many, many times their size. They chase the good guys and the bad guys, inducing great fear in so doing. And they laugh like humans.

If that type of terrible attempt at humor does you right, then you may be right for this movie. If that is the case, then your mind operates on a very juvenile level, so rest assured that this slow, whacky, unfunny adventure is delivered precisely for you in after school special style.

Not much else to say, really. I find guys stepping on loose boards and being wracked in the nards dumb and an insult to my intelligence, just as I do any film where squirrels chase three men back to their boat after having poked a hole in it to cause them to sink. And it doesn't score any points to have a black guy who claims to be Al Gore’s brother hiding out in the woods and theorizing that squirrel flatulence is causing a rise in global temps. Nope, this is stupid, and I'm out of here.

(JH)

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Director: Ellory Elkayem
Starring: Ellen Albertini Dow “Mrs. Bessler,” Robert Blanche “Massey,” Madison Bontempo “Young Heather,” Will Cuddy “Lyle,” Oliver James “Ben,” Amber McDonald “Thunderstorm,” Jerry Rice “Hal Gore,” Madison Riley “Earthchild/Heather,” Todd Robinson “Overton,” Kristopher Turner “Zach,” Rik Young “Nigel”
Genre: Adventure/Comedy

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