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Explorers Bartholemew Hunt and Leslie Edwards are setting forth against nature across the country on a journey to the Pacific Ocean against rivals Lewis and Clark. Along the way they have many mishaps and misfortunes. Written by
Elias, the shop owner that Bartholomew Hunt goes to for a bath, a shave, and a tooth removal is loosely based on Charles Willson Peale, a painter of pre-Revolutionary times that also practiced taxidermy as well as dentistry. See more »
The boat the crew takes up the river changes and has a second story in some scenes. See more »
In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Territory and find a route to the Pacific. Other explorers followed Lewis and Clark but didn't become famous--if you believe this movie.
Among these less well-known explorers was Leslie Edwards, who seemed too much of a spoiled rich kid to spend time in the untamed wilderness--which is why he tried at first to take all the comforts of home with him, including a slave. He needed an expert tracker, but for some reason he had to settle for a man who was in the process of being hanged for drunk and disorderly conduct that included forcing a military officer to waltz. Supposedly, President Jefferson had commuted that sentence, but the signature could have been forged.
The rest of the crew was nothing to brag about. In fact, a number of them, after hearing they would have to travel upstream, wanted to take the easy way out and go to New Orleans instead. One old geezer simply wanted to see the Pacific but got out of doing any work because he was ... well, old. Guy Fontenot claimed to know all the languages of the Indian tribes the group would encounter. But the first time he was called on to translate, he explained that the language was one he didn't know. He brought along the Indian maiden Shaquinna and was insanely jealous whenever anyone would even look at her.
Along the way to the Pacific, our heroes encountered a number of strange Indians and even stranger villains such as Hidalgo. They also visited a full-fledged community established by whites--highly unlikely, but then, this wasn't supposed to be historically accurate.
This was a very funny movie, but whether it was quality depends on one's interpretation. For me, this was quite entertaining. Some examples: Bidwell loses an ear, and Pratt picks it up and speaks into it--for the rest of the movie--believing Bidwell will be able to hear him. And Hunt climbed a tree to get an eagle's egg--three times. I won't say why it had to be three times, or why he really regretted the second and third trips. But it was the highlight of the whole movie. There was also a scene where an Indian kept slapping the white men because they did not respect his customs. Or was that the real reason? And the entire movie was filled with physical comedy such as falling off cliffs.
One criticism--if Matthew Perry was supposed to have a British accent, or at least the accent of New England aristocracy, he seemed to forget in the more strenuous scenes.
The objective was to get to the Pacific before Lewis and Clark. Did they? Of course I can't say. I can say that from a distance in several scenes, we could see what appeared to be two men and an Indian woman, and a dog. Whether they made it or not, the effort was certainly one to be enjoyed.
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