Strange Wilderness is an aggressively stupid movie, but damned if I didn't crack up throughout the whole thing. Debuting on Blu-ray, this Happy Madison production deserves a fair shot from anyone who likes lowbrow, tasteless, and potentially offensive humor. I happen to love that stuff when it's done right, and while Strange Wilderness is no classic, there are more laughs here than I expected.
Steve Zahn leads the cast as Peter Gaulke, the son of a popular wildlife television show host. After his dad passed away, Peter took over hosting and producing "Strange Wilderness." He finds it hard maintaining the same level of quality his father brought to the program. Sample narration: "Bears are a proud people. Although they're not people, per se. They're animals." As the ratings decline, the network wants to pull the plug. Good luck arrives in the form of a map which supposedly leads to Bigfoot's lair in Ecuador. Peter and his crew figure if they can capture the legendary creature on film, it will save "Strange Wilderness" from cancellation.
As the journey to find Bigfoot marches on, the gags come fast and furious. Some of them fall flat, but most of them range from chuckle-worthy to flat-out hilarious. Revealing the jokes would be unfair, but suffice it to say, the wild turkey sequence is a classic example of juvenile sexual humor at its funniest. At a scant 87 minutes, the sickly comic conclusion is reached in no time — at which point I couldn't wait to tell friends and family about this overlooked farce.
The movie almost feels like it was simply made up as it was filmed. While that can be a deficit in the wrong hands, here the spontaneity results in an 'anything goes' anarchy. The rest of the cast ably supports Zahn, with the likes of Jonah Hill, Allen Covert, and Justin Long joining in the fun. Cameos from Robert Patrick, Jeff Garlin, and Ernest Borgnine provide additional highlights. Kudos to Ashley Scott for bringing sharp comic timing, not just eye candy, to her role as crew member Cheryl.
Strange Wilderness looks acceptable on Blu-ray. Considering it's a modestly budgeted comedy, the 1080p high definition transfer serves it well. With serviceable cinematography to begin with, there's no reason to expect a wondrous visual experience. Same goes for the audio, which is presented in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD. The dialogue is loud and clear, but the surround speakers aren't given much of a work out. Not that the mix feels lacking in any department, the soundtrack is adequate for a film of this kind.
The special features are highlighted by a generous selection of deleted scenes. They're worth a look, though none would have especially benefited the movie and were wisely trimmed. "Reel Comedy: Strange Wilderness" is a promo piece with some standard issue cast interviews. Also included are a few short featurettes, one of which focuses on the aforementioned wild turkey sequence. While nothing found among the features is essential, fans will enjoy the content.
It's hard to find a critic that liked Strange Wilderness, and based on box office returns (it grossed less than seven million) apparently it wasn't popular with moviegoers either. Extremely low expectations probably played a part, but I honestly enjoyed the movie for the brainless romp that it is. The R rating was earned for "non-stop language, drug use, crude and sexual humor" and if that sounds like your kettle of fish, by all means dig in.