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Without A Paddle

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Without A Paddle

Starring: Seth Green, Matthew Lillard
Director: Steven Brill
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 95 Minutes
Release Date: August 2004
Genres: Action, Comedy

*Also starring: Dax Shepard, Ray Baker, Abraham Benrubi, Rachel Blanchard, Danielle Cormack, Patrick Dorn, Burt Reynolds, Nick Price, Bonnie Somerville

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

WITHOUT A PADDLE, directed by LITTLE NICKY's Steven Brill, is a completely silly but surprisingly funny comedy. It is basically a teen comedy since it stars three adult actors (Seth Green, Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard) playing 30-year-olds (Dan, Jerry and Tom) who act like teenagers as they go on the big adventure that they had always planned on. Hot on the trail of D.B. Cooper's riches, they take a canoe trip deep into the backwoods of Oregon, where they run into some dumb and dangerous rednecks. In a bizarre twist in geography, the Oregonians all talk like people from the Deep South.

Although WITHOUT A PADDLE is clearly one long spoof of DELIVERANCE -- and even features a well-done, extended cameo by Burt Reynolds -- the movie has numerous homages to other films as well, and most of them are quite cute. In the car on the way home, you'll probably do what we did and argue about which sequences refer to other movies and which don't. Among others, there are: the hugging in bed surprise scene from PLANES, TRAINS & AUTOMOBILES, the speeder bikes chase from RETURN OF THE JEDI, the phone in the excrement part of JURASSIC PARK 3, the cliff jump from BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID and Vincent D'Onofrio's detective style from "Law and Order: Criminal Intent." They even manage to mimic one of the most mimicked scenes ever, Neo's bullet dodging in THE MATRIX, and still make the mimicking seem fresh. It is definitely funny.

As our lads, who display great chemistry together, try to stay alive during their big adventure, they find plenty of funny things to say so that the movie isn't just one long series of sight gags. The physical comedy is quite good, with Seth Green curled up into a fetal position as he is carried away by a big, mean mama bear being the best. One of the best and most bizarre episodes has the three guys rescued briefly by two tree-huggers named Butterfly (Christina Moore) and Flower (Rachel Blanchard). High up in their tree house in the woods, the guys hear about the erotic power of the rain. The only disappointment comes from the movie's PG-13 rating, which precludes some more explicit possibilities.

As the three Yuppies battle the two rednecks without half of a brain between them, you'll be surprised how much you come to like Dan, Jerry and Tom. By the end of this real crowd-pleaser of a picture, you feel like you've vicariously been along with them for the ride. And what a ride it is. A nice rush at the time, WITHOUT A PADDLE contains few, if any, memorable moments, but, as you're laughing along with the rest of audience, you won't care.

WITHOUT A PADDLE runs 1:33. It is rated PG-13 for "drug content, sexual material, language, crude humor and some violence" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 15, gave it ***. He thought the jokes were fresh and funny, and he liked the old movie references in the script. He also commented on how well all of the casting worked.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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