The film keeps referring to "20" years having passed. But it came out in 2003, which would be 25 years. Was it filmed in 1998? Also, does the original River Dogs explain who the hell these people are, where they were from, how they learned river rafting, where their clients were, how old they were at the time, and whether they knew each other before the trip?? One thing I have always wondered about trips like this and hippies in general is the hygiene issue. I wondered if they flossed during the trip, and ironically, it shows one of them flossing 20 years later and admitting that he didn't years ago.
Where did they use the bathroom? Were there porta-potties? Did they use condoms? Where did the food come from? Where specifically were they on the Colorado River and where was that in relation to where they lived? It seems like viewers are thinking of them having been kids on the trip, but they weren't. The men seemed to be in their late 20s. What did they all do for a living during the other 9 months of the year? River Rafting, and being responsible for tourists is not a hippie thing. It requires a schedule, possibly CPR skills, an employer I would assume, courage, and certain alpha qualities. I don't see them smoking pot, nor decrying capitalism.
Yet we see Jim's trailer filled with Leftist type books 20 years later and Cathy is Mayor of a notoriously liberal college town. Jeff is an environmentalist. Barry is Mayor of a notoriously Conservative town. Were they leftists as hippies, or just into nature and nudity? I like the drifting back and forth between the old footage and the new, and I like seeing the people in their domestic lives now. But I didn't watch long enough to hear any deep insight into the nature of youth, the passage of time, or what is important in life.
I did respect Jeff's admission that he was too into becoming a "player" in the environmental movement to maintain his marriage, and Jim's humble admission that he did not want kids and was happy that Danny got some with another man.
As one reviewer already mentioned, the most poignant aspect of the film involves the guy whom everyone looked up to back then. Now he is just a non-productive loner with nothing to show for a lifetime of self-indulgence.
The film maker did not use any manipulative mood music (that I remember), or 70s soundtrack. A soundtrack would have been a big mistake, but I wouldn't have minded a little new age music.
Nudity on a tropical beach seems to me more appealing than nudity at a desert campsite in summer. I'm not a fan of nudity during normal daily activities. I prefer bikinis. I want nudity to be exciting when it counts, not humdrum.
I kept thinking about the novel and film called The Beach. It's a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which reminds me of this river film.
At the end of that film he explains that "paradise" is not a place, but rather a period of time when one is a part of something memorable. He says that no one can take that away from you, because it lasts forever in your memory.
I guess that is the case with these aging hippies. I just hope they take showers now.
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