Without A Paddle

without-paddle-poster“He won’t bother you if you’re in the fetal position… Abort the fetal position!”

The Scoop: 2004 PG-13, directed by Steven Brill and starring Dax Shepard, Matthew Lillard, and Seth Green

Tagline: The call of the wild. The thrill of adventure. The mistake of a lifetime.

Summary Capsule: The boyhood chums set out to recover D.B. Cooper’s lost money and generally expose themselves to the elements of Burt Reynolds

Justin’s Rating: Seth Green: proof that short people do have a purpose!

Justin’s Review: It seems that, more than any other genre, it’s easiest to let good comedies slip you by in the theater. Reviews aren’t always as kind or correct as their meth-laced masters wish they would be; box office isn’t always the be-all, end-all of a film’s success; and sometimes comedy takes a while to ripen in the hearts of viewers until it becomes a staid classic (Office Space?). This past year I’ve had the pleasure of unearthing three very funny, very overlooked recent comedies that were quickly ushered into my sacred DVD collection: Eurotrip, Out Cold, and Without A Paddle. All wear their badges of Weird proudly, not boasting ultra-famous actors but solidly delivering the funny.

Of course, I had to see this film; it had Seth Green. Seth Green’s midget stature but giant comedy is only second to a commandment written in stone at the top of Mt. Sinai to get my butt in a theater seat. From Can’t Hardly Wait to Austin Powers to TV’s Buffy (as the laconic Oz) and TV’s Robot Chicken, Green’s shown himself to be the master of a softer type of sarcasm, the kind that’s more funny than it is cruel, and I truly wish he was my best friend. At least I have a bag of his trash that I placed in a corner at home and talk to now and then.

Okay, so you need to be sold on Without A Paddle, right? I mean, it’s got Matthew Lillard, too, and many times that’s a deal breaker for most sane folks. Rest your weary heads, my children, he’s not as annoying here. When three childhood friends return for their fourth friend’s funeral, Tom (Dax Shepard), Jerry (Lillard) and Dan (Green) decide to take a long-planned trip into the wilderness to find D.B. Cooper as a sort of tribute to their buddy. Cue the strains of “Dueling Banjos” and break out the hillbilly jokes – it’s a bumpy ride!

(I am SO pleased I was able to type “banjos” today. Sometimes words themselves can give a funny, tingly pleasure. You feel dirty now, don’t you?)

Think the road trip from Tommy Boy and throw in a few Deliverance references, and there you go! The basically nature-deficient idiots trek down a river, completely unprepared for the bears, pot farmers and hippies that lay ahead. Along the way, they examine their lives (of course) and bond by snuggling while wearing only wet underwear (um… of course). More enjoyment for us!

Against expectations, the goodly chunk of the humor doesn’t really come from the big events or set pieces (haha, they went over a waterfall, that’s funny in a Dick Van Dyke sorta way). Actually, I found myself far more happy to be laughing at all of the terrific dialogue – many of it subtle, throwaway quips – that kept constantly popping out of our characters. The movie becomes a contest of one-upmanship to see who will spout the quote that will stick with you most after the end credits. It’s a tough call, frankly.

Trust me: you need this in your life. At least, in a day of your life that you could use a spunky pick-me-up chock-full of comedic gold, untouched, awaiting your discovery.

Seth Green finds true love?

Seth Green finds true love?

Intermission!

  • So who is D.B. Cooper?
    D. B. Cooper, aka Dan Cooper, was a notorious airplane hijacker who in 1971, after receiving a ransom payout of $200,000, leapt from the back of a Boeing 727 as it was flying over the Pacific Northwest. No conclusive evidence has ever surfaced regarding Cooper’s whereabouts, and several theories offer competing explanations of what happened after his famed jump. The only clues to have turned up in the case are ambiguous: around $5,000 that washed up on the banks of the Columbia River, and part of a sign believed to be from the rear stairway of the plane from which Cooper jumped. Today, the Cooper case remains the world’s only unsolved skyjacking.
  • Dax Shepard, Seth Green, and Matthew Lillard all did a majority of their own stunts.
  • How to crash a funeral
  • Earwax… ew
  • Seth Green does a great C3PO impression
  • Always love a good Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman reference
  • There are several palm trees along the shore of the river which would not exist in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon.

Groovy Quotes

Dan: The only chance we have to survive is to huddle together for warmth…
Jerry: I, for one, choose death.

Dan: Stop it! Stop it! SHUT UP! I AM DOCTOR MOTT!

Jerry: I christen this, Duke the second! [smashes beer bottle on canoe]
River Guide: Thanks for breaking glass where my kids play.

Tom: Is this Billy’s funeral? Is that the corpse of Billy Newwood?

Jerry: Give ’em hell, Tommy.
Tom: This Hellmart’s open for business, and I’m slashing prices.

Jerry: Come back to bed, you guys. I’m freezing.
Tom: Not until he puts Jabba back in his Hut!

Dan: Mmm, bacon.
Del: Squirrel.
Dan: Mmm… squirrel.

Tom: He won’t bother you if you’re in the fetal position… Abort the fetal position!

Dan: [doing his best C3P0 voice] We are in serious trouble my friends. All data points to us being… how do you humans say it? Completely screwed.

Dan: Hey, that sounds like Creed.
Tom: I never thought I’d be happy to hear anything that sounds like Creed.

River Guide: So… are you a class… 4,5?
Tom: Yeah? Yeah? Why don’t you try to put those numbers together. Yeah. I shot a class 45, and haven’t lost a man yet.
River Guide: Lie to me! I don’t care. I’m not the one who’s going to drown.

Del: Come with me, or I’ll shoot your testicles off and stuff ’em and mount ’em on my mantlepiece.
Tom: That’s gonna be an ugly mantlepiece.

Jerry: So this is Spirit River, we take that to Widowmaker Bend and then we hike to Devil’s Staircase and that should lead us right to the top of Hellfire …
Dan: What’s with all these satanic names? Isn’t there, like, a Fluffy Bunny Way?
Tom: No… but there’s a Shut-Up-You-Big-Baby Ridge.

Tom Marshall: So you’re saying you lost the map? You don’t have it?
Jerry Conlaine: No, I’m saying I forgot to hold on to it while my ass was free-falling over a 100-foot waterfall.

If you liked this movie, try these:

  • Tommy Boy
  • Eurotrip
  • Out Cold
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