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Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Without a Paddle

Posted By on Wed, Aug 25, 2004 at 12:00 AM

Packed with equal amounts of sentimentality and immature antics, the one thing for certain about Without a Paddle is that it’s a guy flick, in the “burp, scratch and pat your buddy on the back” sense.

This isn’t surprising — when a movie stars someone recognizable from MTV’s “Jackass,” it should be your first clue it’s a guy flick. Your second clue: Director Steven Brill’s credits include Little Nicky and Mr. Deeds.

Much like the characters in this comedy, Without a Paddle has no sense of direction, vacillating between mild buddy movie and screwball adventure.

The story starts slow and sentimental with three old friends (Dax Shepard, Matthew Lillard and Seth Green) reuniting for a friend’s funeral. The men are all grown-up, but their reunion and grief reignite a childhood quest to find a thief’s booty lost in a remote wilderness.

Once they hit the road, the movie regresses into juvenile jokes and a played-out storyline.

The trio runs into the stereotypical, backwoods yokels (no!), falls over a waterfall (will they survive?) and mixes it up with a wild bear (gasp!). You’ve seen it all before, and it’s not any funnier this time around.

Even the characters are formulaic: Green is nerdy and uptight, Shepard is looking to find himself, and Lillard is wild and unpredictable. Will they clash on their outdoors adventure? Do I need to answer?

The movie also curses itself with two clichés popping up in far too may films of late. If I never see another group of characters singing along to bad ’70s or ’80s tunes it will be too soon. I’d also prefer never to witness in an adult film another anthropomorphized computer-generated animal — like a snarling deer or a laughing raccoon.

But I digress.

There are a few funny scenes: Green, in particular, is great as the paranoid doctor who can’t lighten up, and Burt Reynolds’s cameo brightens up the picture.

Overall, Without a Paddle makes too many wrong turns and finds itself up the proverbial creek.

E-mail Clare Pfeiffer Ramsey at letters@metrotimes.com.

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