Apparently humans are the rulers of the so-called animal kingdom. If you take the whole package of our intelligence, upright walking and sheer domination of the planet, people lay the proverbial smackdown on all comers. And then along comes a film like Strange Wilderness that calls that theory into question. A few cute gags aside, this is an exercise in stupidity aimed at those who find 15 different names for a bong to be funny.
The 50-percent hilarious Steve Zahn (every other movie of his is actually funny) plays Peter Gaulke, a Steve “Crocodile Hunter” Irwin send up who is about to have his “nature” show cancelled. Peter grew up the family slacker and took over the show following his father’s death. Things were never the same again as Peter and his crew opted for half-truths and sensationalistic shots over factual content. And no, there is no deeper meaning making “Strange Wilderness” a symbol for the half-truth driven Bush administration. Peter and company go on a hunt for Bigfoot in a last-ditch attempt to save the show and bring a tad of respect back to the Gaulke name.
What ensues is gag after gag revolving around getting stoned, sex and crotch shots. Most come out of nowhere and read of being imagined during a night of partying and lounging on the couch. As a result the so-called plot is replaced by a series of jokes that come together to only loosely create a plot. Many of the scenes drag on far too long such as the shtick with a turkey stuck on Peter’s privates. Like a lot of the film, there is some initial humour, but there comes a point where enough is enough.
Strange Wilderness is plagued by self indulgence. Even worse, even the surface of the film doesn’t try to hide it. The screenplay was written by Peter Gaulke and Fred Wolf (who also directs). The names of the two main characters: Peter Gaulke and Fred Wolf. Now if this were a documentary, it might be forgivable. If it were actually a well written film rather than a collection of gags (see Superbad), it might be forgivable. Had Strange Wilderness shown any other level of being self-referential, it might have been forgivable. But it’s not. Everything about Strange Wilderness panders to a primaly low level. I’m sure that everyone involved had a great time making it and getting paid in the process, but that doesn’t excuse it as a quality film.
When I want to get a quick laugh, I often just head over to YouTube and watch someone get hit in the head. If I’m really down, I might even chuckle at a cue ball jumping off a pool table and hitting a guy in the crotch. The point is, these gags are quick and done with. They’re funny in small doses. Spread it out to a feature – even one that doesn’t even run the length of a long lunch break – and it gets tiresome very fast. I did laugh a few times during Strange Wilderness, but the remaining 75 percent of the time I was almost embarrassed to be watching it.
Strange Wilderness DVD Review
I wouldn’t call the Strange Wilderness DVD loaded, but it’s solid enough. The feature is shown in an enhanced widescreen format with Dolby 5.1 Surround audio in English and Spanish. Optional subtitles are also available in English, Spanish and French.
There’s a large number of extra features, none of which are incredibly long or deep. They’re led by 13 deleted scenes totaling 22 minutes. “Cooker’s Song” gets deep into the music of Jonah Hill and his guitar. Actually it’s just an extended version of the step-mom song from the film shot from behind the camera. “The Turkey” is a seven-minute deconstruction of one of the film’s more memorable scenes. “What Do We Do Now?” shows the film’s roundtable planning scene in an outtake format. “Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness” is a promotional behind-the-scenes look at the film that was shot for Comedy Central. Previews include The Love Guru, Drillbit Taylor and Cloverfield.
Strange Wilderness Gallery