Three friends, whose lives have been drifting apart, reunite for the funeral of a fourth childhood friend. When looking through their childhood belongings, they discover a trunk which contained details on a quest their friend was attempting. It revealed that he was hot on the trail of the $200,000 that went missing with airplane hijacker D.B. Cooper in 1971. They decide to continue his journey, but do not understand the dangers they will soon encounter. Written by
What sounds like your average, everyday sort of male bonding roadtrip film is essentially...well, just that, in fact. Three childhood friends (Seth Green, Matthew Lilard, Dax Sheppard) reunite at a friend's funeral, and go off on a camping trip downstream to try and find the lost treasure they always dreamed of finding in their youth in his honour. They promptly and predictably fall into all sorts of mishaps in the wild and really give a bad reputation to man's survival ethic.
This kind of comedy is always somewhat stifled when a life lesson is included: in the case of Without a paddle the message is 'Appreciate the life you have...you never know how long it will last'. Unfortunately, we go to a film like this to be entertained, not for morals, and its inclusion merely deters from the fun.
The three leads are what make the film decently funny: Seth Green is excellent as he begrudgingly reveals his various phobias from everything from the dark to ceran wrap. ('I'm afraid it might get stuck over my head, it's very sticky) Matthew Lilard puts his wide range of comic facial expressions to good use, and Dax Shepard is always a source of laughs as the tough-guy slacker of the group.
The comedic material is mostly original stuff, but there's nothing outstanding to be seen, apart from a few memorable moments. (one finds Dax Shepard riding his motorcycle into the graveyard at the burial of his friend, and bellowing out to the funeral attendees 'Where did you guys park?') The inclusion of Burt Reynolds' crazy mountain man is a comedic plus, but the nature loving hippy-girls and uncouth drug traffickers which pop up periodically aren't as funny as they should be. In fact, such can be said for the entire movie.
The odd laugh will definitely turn up, but there are many better comedies around, so unless you're simply up for an evening of mostly forgettable fun, you might want to leave Without a Paddle wallowing in the shallows.
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