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Laramie Movie Scope:
Without a Paddle

Buddy river road trip

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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April 6, 2005 -- “Without a Paddle” is a standard sophmoric buddy road comedy movie with an average script and better than average acting. It is along the lines of “Road Trip” and other similar comedies, except the actors are a bit older this time around. It also has different scenery than most road trip movies because it takes place on a river in a wilderness area.

The story has three guys, Dan Mott (Seth Green of “The Italian Job”), Jerry Conlaine (Matthew Lillard of the “Scooby Doo” movies) and Tom Marshall (Dax Shepard of the “Punk'd” TV show), heading down a remote wilderness river in the Pacific Northwest looking for D.B. Cooper's lost treasure. Since none of these guys has any idea how to paddle a canoe, let alone run class five rapids in one, they soon lose their canoe and their gear and are lost in the woods, running around in their skivies.

They run up against a large bear (brilliantly played by Bart the Bear), a snarling deer, murderous marijuana growers, a crazy, gun-toting hermit, eco-tree nymphs and other distractions. There are some passable sight gags and pratfalls along the way. The three main characters are good and the movie, directed by Steven Brill (“Mr. Deeds”) takes its time to develop the characters. Brill also gets good performances out of his actors, particularly Green, Lillard and Ethan Suplee (“Cold Mountain”). Suplee plays Elwood, one of the dangerous pot growers. Burt Reynolds, who once starred in the classic canoe-river running film, “Deliverance,” also has a bit role in the movie. Thank God nobody has to squeal like a pig in this one. I don't think I could take that again.

Overall, this is an average comedy. Although the acting is fine, the script is pretty lame and it doesn't have a lot of good jokes in it. It does have some heart, and the characters have more depth and maturity than you would expect from a film in this genre. I saw this film on DVD. It has a nice “MTV Making the Movie: Without a Paddle” feature which shows just how bad these guys are in a canoe. They tipped over in flatwater! That's pathetic. The actors did go through a lot to make this film, including a lot of dunkings in cold river water (it was shot on a real wild river, not in a studio). There are 13 deleted scenes, none of which belonged in the film. The DVD has three audio tracks, Dolby digital 5.1 (TM), Dolby digital 2.0 surround, both in English, and Dolby Digital 2.0 surround, French. It also has English and Spanish subtitles and closed-captioning. This region one DVD also has a commentary track by director Steven Brill and the cast. There is a theatrical trailer, too. This film rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2005 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)