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
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