Without a Paddle (2004)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Comedy, Comedy of Errors  |   Release Date - Aug 20, 2004 (USA)  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - New Zealand , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Derek Armstrong

If you were looking to feel superior toward a movie in 2004, you had few better choices than Without a Paddle. The trailers were geared toward juvenile humor that ranged in depth from homophobia and animatronic bears to the ever-present fear of being raped by hillbillies. It's not that Without a Paddle doesn't touch on these things, it's that it's not very mean-spirited about them, and is more likeable than it should be for much of its running time. This can be credited to the snappy dialogue by Jay Leggett and Mitch Rouse, who get down a good "guys razzing each other" tone that develops the characters and makes them seem comfortable enough to be real friends. Since the actors are clearly having a good time, it's easier to swallow the ridiculous things that happen to them in the course of a camping trip gone wrong in all the predictable ways. As though to prove Seth Green is the most marketable of the stars, all the truly outrageous things happen to his character, leaving Matthew Lillard and Dax Shepard to look on and guffaw moronically. This gets tiresome, as do a bunch of set pieces that beat a sadly familiar trail. But darn it if a good soundtrack and some watchable chemistry don't push things toward a halfway-decent lowbrow comedy. In a ten-minute cameo as a mountain hermit, Burt Reynolds submits a far livelier performance than his co-starring role in The Dukes of Hazzard the following year. Also nice fun are Abraham Benrubi and Ethan Suplee as a pair of redneck marijuana farmers, with Suplee's performance serving as a template for his moony simpleton on My Name Is Earl.