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Fred Wolf
Steve Zahn, Allen Covert, Jonah Hill, Kevin Heffernan, Ashley Scott, Peter Dante, Harry Hamlin, Robert Patrick
Writing Credits:
Peter Gaulke, Fred Wolf

This ain't March of the Penguins.

Animal enthusiast Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) and his sidekick Fred Wolf (Allen Covert) host an ailing wildlife TV show "Strange Wilderness," which is in a steep ratings decline. Desperate to save the show, Peter hatches a Hail Mary scheme to find the one animal that could truly turn the show around and change the nature-show landscape forever - Bigfoot.

Box Office:
Opening Weekend
$3.001 million on 1208 screens.
Domestic Gross
$6.563 million.

Rated R

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 5/20/2008

• “Cooker’s Song”
• “The Turkey”
• “What Do We Do?”
• “Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness
• Deleted Scenes
• Previews


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Strange Wilderness (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 13, 2008)

If you’ve longed for a spoof of wildlife TV series like Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom - and seriously, who doesn’t crave a parody of a series that’s been off the air for 20 years? - then 2008’s Strange Wilderness is for you! Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) worries that his animal-oriented nature show will get the axe. To amp up ratings, Pete leads an expedition to Ecuador to document Bigfoot. The movie follows the hijinks as Pete and his crew head out after the mythical creature.

That may be the shortest plot synopsis I’ve ever written. The film’s story throws out minor subplots, but nothing that needs to be mentioned. The three sentences I devoted to the plot suffice, as there’s nothing else you need to know. If the summary entices you, then great; if not, even better, as Wilderness creates some of the slowest 85 minutes committed to film.

When a movie starts with a phone call that exists solely for clumsy exposition, you know you’re in trouble. Matters don’t improve from there. Not only does the flick remain ham-fisted and poorly paced, but also it simply fails to entertain in any remote manner.

Essentially, Wilderness exists as an excuse to throw out lots and lots of random gags. Most of the bits found here have almost nothing to do with the actual plot, narrow as it may be. Indeed, when we finally get to Bigfoot, that part of the movie comes and goes quickly.

This means the flick lives and dies with its attempts at humor. In that regard, it perishes without a fight. “Attempts at humor” describes the situation truthfully, as the film tries desperately to make us laugh but it fails miserably. Gags exist for their own sake, a fact that wouldn’t be so bad if they showed any wit or cleverness.

They don’t, even though Wilderness boasts some decent actors like Justin Long and Jonah Hill. I get the impression that these guys just decided to make a movie over a long weekend. It feels like they didn’t bother with a script and just shot whatever came to mind at the moment.

Wilderness comes under Adam Sandler’s “Happy Madison” banner. Does he bankroll crap like this just to give his pals some work? I can’t imagine any other rationale for the creation of this submoronic atrocity.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus C

Strange Wilderness appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No significant issues developed during this positive transfer.

Very little softness ever interfered with the presentation. I noticed a sliver of edge enhancement, and a few shots looked a wee bit undefined. However, these were very rare, and the movie remained concise the vast majority of the time. No jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and source flaws were absent. Actually, some of the animal footage displayed marks, but that was because it came from archival sources; I didn’t think I should factor those into my overall grade.

Wilderness went with a natural palette that looked good. The colors were consistently bright and lively throughout the flick. Blacks seemed dark and tight, while shadows showed good clarity and delineation. I found a lot to like in this satisfying presentation.

Expect a fairly standard “comedy mix” from the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Strange Wilderness. The outdoors shots allowed the soundfield to open up a bit, as they showed decent use of the sides and surrounds. However, the track usually maintained a modest sense of environment and not much else.

Audio quality was positive. Speech seemed concise and natural, without edginess or other problems. Music could’ve provided better low-end, but I thought the score was acceptably vivid. Effects appeared distinctive and accurate. I didn’t think this was a memorable mix, but it was good enough for a “B-“.

A smattering of extras complete the DVD. Three featurettes provide some behind the scenes material. In the five-minute and 48-second Cooker’s Song, we simply see a long reel of Jonah Hill as he performs the tune. It’s mildly interesting at best but doesn’t offer any insight.

A loot at special effects comes with The Turkey. This six-minute and 47-second clip features comments from creature make-up effects artist Robert Hall as he shows us what they did to bring the cock-gobbling gobbler to life. The piece mostly just shows raw footage from the set, so it doesn’t tell us much. I’d have preferred to learn more details about the fake turkey, as this clip fails to provide much good info.

What Do We Do? goes for six minutes, six seconds as it shows us more behind the scenes material from the shoot. We simply watch the filming of the sequence in which the TV crew tries to figure out how to save the series. It includes some alternate lines but otherwise isn’t particularly compelling. I will admit it’s oddly entertaining to see Justin Long ask Ernest Borgnine if he ever finger-fucked Mama Cass; sure, it’s in character, but it’s still not a sight you witness everyday.

13 Deleted Scenes last a total of 22 minutes, 11 seconds. These include “Four Things” (0:42), “Pete Yells at Debbie” (0:34), “Judy” (1:52), “Lawson” (1:12), “Pet Perv” (0:52), “Interviews” (4:35), “Not Fans” (0:50), “Cooker Song: America” (4:34), “Dentist” (1:16), “Immigration” (2:02), “Tattooed Boobs” (0:42), “Pier” (1:29) and “Beaver/Moose” (1:28). I admit that the last one has a couple of moderately funny comments, but the rest are the same kind of nonsense in the final flick. If you like Wilderness, you’ll probably enjoy them as well.

A promotional program called Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness runs 21 minutes, 14 seconds and features Lisa Arch as she chats with actors Steve Zahn, Peter Dante, Allen Covert, Justin Long, and Ashley Scott. If you’ve other “Reel Comedy” entries, you’ll know what to expect. The programs exist to sell movie tickets and attempt some wacky laughs. Like other “Reel Comedy” shows, this one features lots of film clips, a long story/character synopsis, and some nutty comments. It’s a complete waste of time.

A few ads open the DVD. We get clips for The Love Guru and Drillbit Taylor. These also appear in the Previews area along with a promo for Cloverfield. No trailer for Wilderness pops up here.

Painfully stupid, Strange Wilderness lacks the slightest semblance of humor. Instead, it substitutes idiotic gags and pointless wackiness. None of it works and the flick’s 85 minutes pass very, very slowly. The DVD presents very good picture along with decent audio and some generally forgettable supplements. Stay away from this completely unfunny stinker.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.6451 Stars Number of Votes: 31
0 3:
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