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While I didn't have high hopes for Nature Calls to begin with, it went
above and beyond to prove me wrong. It was even worse than I ever could
have imagined and, as per the summary of this review, is quite possibly
the worst movie I have ever seen.
I get that you can make a low brow comedy flick. In fact, I don't mind them. That's what I expected from this. But to call it a comedy would be a flat out lie. There was no redeeming humor in the film at all, not a single laugh. The plot and story were incoherent, the characters were undeveloped and horrible, the actors (as one critic put it) phoned it in, and the editing was atrocious. The entire thing made no sense - it wasn't even so bad it was good. It was just bad.
If you want a 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th opinion read any of the other critic reviews. Just whatever you do - do NOT watch this movie. I don't usually write reviews, but if I can't get my 90 minutes back at least I can save yours.
Nature Calls (2012)
BOMB (out of 4)
Incredibly awful comedy has Boy Scout leader Randy (Patton Oswalt) kidnapping his brother's (Johnny Knoxville) adopted son and friends and taking them into the woods for a camping trip. Yes, that's pretty much the entire story. I've seen quite a few bad movies in my lifetime but it's pretty clear that it's hard to get a movie made today and get it released to something other than Youtube. I say that because for the life of me I can't see how this thing got financing and I really can't understand why some studio would actually buy it, try to release it and make money off of it. This here is without question one of the worst and most pathetic comedies I've seen in a very long time and it's really too bad considering the talented cast. I really couldn't understand where any of the comedy was supposed to be coming from because the screenplay doesn't have anything remotely funny or even that interesting. Yes, I get it, the Boy Scouts are falling apart and this Randy is just holding onto the past. That's fine but is this supposed to be funny? Is it funny seeing boys pee in the woods? Is it funny seeing the adopted son is from Africa? Is is supposed to be funny that the brother gets set on fire? The entire movie is just one big flop after another with bad jokes, a boring story and not a single interesting thing going on. Oswalt pretty much sleepwalks through the role and this is certainly the worst I've seen from him. Knoxville is just more annoying than anything else and Maura Tierney is just wasted. The late, great Patrice O'Neal is the only bit of energy but sadly he's not in the film enough to make it better. NATURE CALLS is a complete misfire that's certainly one of the worst films of the year.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Where to start? If only I could have started at the end of the movie,
I would have saved myself 79 minutes. "Nature Calls" was about
reviving a dwindling boy scout troop, lead by a complete loser who
wanted nothing more than to help kids connect with nature. Sounds like
a nice film for the 8-14 year old boy group, right? Wrong. In a
sentence, "Nature Calls" was one of the most offensive, ridiculous, and
irritating movies I've seen this year. It offended every aspect of my
intellect. The barrage of constant noise, insanity and ludicrous
situations was more than I could handle. Who wrote this? (Todd
Rohal) Who did he write this for??? I have no idea. The language,
the focus point, and the overall story had no redeeming qualities
whatsoever. Between the adults acting like prepubescent children and
the children acting like wild beasts, I wanted to shut the movie off.
But I didn't so that I could save you from wasting your time and money.
Patton Oswalt played Randy, the unrealistic troop leader trying to convince a group of boys to come back to his boy scout troop to experience nature. Randy's brother Kirk (Johnny Knoxville) and his cohort Gentry (Rob Riggle) were intent on exposing these kids to electronic heaven instead of going on the camping trip planned by Randy. As Randy broke many rules to get these boys out into nature and connect with it, many ridiculous events occurred. Kirk and Gentry exploded with anger and outrage and Kirk's wife, Janine (played by Maura Tierney), tried to hunt the group down. Janine was nothing more than a servant who had no personality and put up with being treated like a second class citizen. (Personal note to Maura...WHY? Why did you stoop to this level?)
Crude behavior. Crass language. Inappropriate scenes. Nudity. Sexual innuendos. Racial slurs. Animal cruelty. The list of negatives goes on and on. I truly have no idea who the intended audience is. It's not a kid's movie, that's for sure! It's not a female movie. Is it a guys' movie? I hope not. This is an awful representation of the boy scouts. This is an awful representation of Hollywood! This is an awful representation of how adult males should be a model for kids. Crude, rude and crass can be funny ("The Hangover"), but not in "Nature Calls!" However, I can't end without saying one positive thing. On the positive side, it wasn't 2 hours long.
After watching the trailer and reading a two-line synopsis, I thought
this could have been quite entertaining. Unfortunately, it proved to be
one of the worst movies I have ever watched. Most characters are not
only uninteresting, they are actually annoying. The story could have
some potential as it involves overprotecting mothers freaking out about
their children being kidnapped - plus a couple of subplots that go
totally unexploited, but it is so badly written, directed and edited
that it ends up being a complete waste of time.
As the movie progressed, I really wished a monster like "Predator" would appear in the woods and kill everyone, just to add something interesting to this movie...
Don't waste your time on this.
Just because this movie is a little different and doesn't pander to
contemporary American sensibilities, doesn't mean it's horrible or has
a bad script.
Like I said it is a little different and vulgar at times. But it is entertaining and Patton Oswalt holds it together very nicely.
Johnny Knocksville & Ron Riggle are at first hard to handle but I thought they were funny and a good addition to the story.
It actually has a some very good messages about respecting nature and remembering to sometimes forget about modern technologies and to go have fun outside.
Stop hating on this movie!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This story has so much depth. You have to wade through so much crap and
unnecessarily cheesy acting to get to the heart. Patton Oswalts
character Randy, is an unsuccessful scout leader who wants to bring
back the troop and also teach a group of sheltered, inexperienced young
boys the meaning of being a scout. Along with Randys ailing father who
founded the troop, Randy talks the kids into camping, not in the church
parking lot as the mothers have decided, but into the woods. I
understand that this movie is shaky and mixed up, also poorly
constructed, HOWEVER, there is a wonderful story in all of this.
I would like to say that I love Thiecoura Cissokos character Dwande. He is the adoptive son of Randy's brother Kirk. He doesn't have talking parts on screen, but his sad eyes are all that is needed. He sees how his parents act and talk about him right in front of his face. He longs for adventure and on the camping trip he finds it.
Also Randy brings along his elderly and ailing father who feels a great deal towards the troop. He has seen it dwindle and you can tell he is worried about the future of the Boy Scouts. The presence of Randys father is essential to the story, sort of a passing of the torch to the next generation. Kirk later remarks that he should be at the nursing home that he has paid for, instead of camping with Randy and the children. I feel this is the best part of the story, and while the kids reach the camp ground at sunset and they are all around the fire and talking you can see tears in the mans eyes. Being able to relate to this story and knowing a great deal about Scouting, I find this scene emotional.
'NATURE CALLS': Four Stars (Out of Five)
Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville play rival brothers who grew up disagreeing the most on scouting (which their father loved). Oswalt plays a scout leader who so desperately wants his scout troop to get more involved in scouting that he kidnaps them from his brother's sleepover and takes them on a real wilderness scouting trip. His obsessed brother, Knoxville, goes crazy trying to track them down. The movie has a great premise and some big big laughs. It misfired finding the right audience but I thought it was hilarious at times.
Oswalt plays Randy and Knoxville plays Kirk. Randy grew up loving scouting, much to his father's approval, and became a scout leader (following in his dad's footsteps). Kirk grew up hating scouting and went into business with his friend Gentry (the hilarious Rob Riggle). Kirk and his wife Janine (Maura Tierney) recently adopted a ten-year-old boy from Africa named Dwande (Thiecoura Cissoko). One weekend Randy is supposed to take his troop camping (in a parking lot) and the kids all bail on him to go to Dwande's sleepover at Kirk's house. Randy, inspired by his elderly ill father, rounds up all the kids from his brother's house and takes them on a real wilderness camping trip (without anyone's permission). Kirk and Gentry try to track them down, obsessively, along with another father (comedian Patrice O'Neal in his last film) while the kids of course learn something about themselves and surviving in the wilderness.
The movie got a lot of bad reviews from critics and movie nerds but I think it missed it's target audience. I almost passed on the movie because of the negative hype but I'm glad I decided to give it a try. I thought it was very funny quite frequently. The cast is all topnotch and writer/director Todd Rohal did a great job of delivering a madcap 80's style comedy. It's of course too crude and over the top for some but that's what I loved about it; it has an amazing amount of unchecked aggressive comedic energy. It's raunchy and vulgar and at the same time it's a heartfelt R rated kids' flick (just like it's 80's inspirations). The haters are going to hate but I loved it!
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I had the misfortune of having the television on when "Nature Calls" came on late the other evening. Enjoying some of Johnny Knoxville's work I thought I'd sit down and watch it. What I watched was appalling degrading cultural stereotyping especially of Thiecoura Cissoko's character Dwande, the mocking religious beliefs, 79 minutes worth of unnecessary bad language and other stereotypical roles (especially those towards women) being over-played. What I also found astounding is the movie is aimed at a young audience with a sizable child cast. Why does Hollywood think producing this crap is wanted and does it take a moment to weigh up it's own moral values to the audience it seeks to empress. An absolutely appalling movie to which all copies should be burnt. Shame on you Knoxville.
Nature Calls is the last film I'd expect from Todd Rohal, who directed
the eccentric mixed-bag that was Guatemalan Handshake and the hugely
questionable but watchable Catechism Cataclysm, among a wide variety of
short films in the nineties. Rohal's style seemed as if he would shy
away from anything remotely in the same vein as Nature Calls, a farce
centered around a boy scouts trip in the woods. I expected Rohal's next
project to be quirky, but what I didn't expect it to be was
Just by his five short films and two feature films, I knew Rohal was something different in cinema. Whether or not I like his work is a different story, but I will always look forward to what the man has coming out simply because it's something I can't rationally expect. How many filmmakers can we say that out about? I know Steven Spielberg's next film will either be a big-budget adventure film or a serious-minded biopic, I know Kevin Smith's next film will be a human drama centered around hockey, I know Martin Scorsese will examine another cultural figure with a magnifying glass, and I know Tyler Perry will continue to humanize African Americans with another Madea movie or a drama totally in its own melodramatic league. I am completely unsure of what Rohal's next move will be after two extremely out there, independent films and one obscure comedy playing dress-up in mainstream clothes.
The plot concerns Randy (Patton Oswalt), a dedicated boy scout leader, who desperately wants to get children excited about learning the fundamentals of nature and how to survive in the deep wilderness. The problem is in the dawn of technology and commercial flashiness, children are not even remotely interested in what Randy has to say or do. When the kids would rather go to Randy's brother Kirk's home (Johnny Knoxville) to welcome home their new adopted son from Africa, Randy crashes the party and takes the kids for the trip of a lifetime in the woods. This leaves Kirk, his pal Gentry (Rob Riggle), and an angry parent (the late, great comedian Patrice O'Neal) to find Randy, while having Kirk's wife fend off a crowd of angry, nervous parents who want to find their children's whereabouts.
The only thing worse than witnessing a lukewarm or flat-out bad comedy is thinking about what that comedy could've been if things had went in a different direction. There is a scene in the movie that takes place after Kirk is injured very badly after being caught on fire. He requests the children build a stretcher out of materials they find in the woods. They come back a little while later having erected a life-size cross, akin to the one Jesus Christ was crucified on. When they tie Kirk to the cross, they drag him across the woods, bloody, badly cut, and screaming for mercy.
When watching this scene, I realized the true potential this could've had as a twisted, dark comedy with obscure humor and inane setups. All while Todd Rohal maintained his status as an enigmatic filmmaker. But for some baffling reason, Rohal decided to make a comedy that more-or-less tried to hard to mimic that of a foul-mouthed mainstream comedy and only succeeded in being gratuitously foul-mouthed and hinting it could've been destined for cult greatness.
The other downside to the film is that so much comedic talent here is wasted. Patton Oswalt, who has worked in great dark comedy films such as Big Fan and Young Adult, does about as much as he can with the thin material provided, Johnny Knoxville and Rob Riggle are mostly obnoxious bullies without ever being funny, and Patrice O'Neal is the only guy who can get a laugh but even this makes me think about the good films he could've been in if he hadn't died young.
It would appear Rohal wanted to make an independent comedy that dabbled into the mannerisms of a mainstream one but tried to simultaneously give off the impression of a sweet, simple farce that a studio couldn't make. This is a stretch, but it's a nice justification for now. Nature Calls, right down to its perfunctory title, is a wholly disappointing effort from a filmmaker who definitely has better material and ideas on his hands.
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Johnny Knoxville, Rob Riggle, and Patrice O'Neal. Directed by: Todd Rohal.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm nearly convinced this was some sort of meta piece. Writer/Director
Todd Rohal is either playing a huge joke on everyone by writing such a
bad and structurally inefficient script, or it's just that bad. I'm
sure of the former.
To start, it feels like three different movies were written and made. Then they were somehow carefully edited into one single film. Nothing feels natural about how the movie moves from point to point. Oswalt seems to exist almost outside of the movie itself. It was a Disney kids movie at points, and really felt like it. Other moments it felt a Hangover type (Rob Riggle was uncomfortably out of place in this, but hysterical non-the-less). There was even a very dark "Apocalypse Now" moment, complete with strange religious elements and all. Then some of the elements slowly meshed into a very strange cavalcade of dark humor.
There was literally a scene with two different scores going on at the same time. One is the 90's campy "going on vacation" family pace. The other is somewhat Wagner. Neither score correctly matched the tone of the scene.
I'm still not sure what the hell I watched. I'm convinced this needs to be a cult classic, at least on some post-modern level. The fact that Patton Oswalt is even involved means that someone did this on purpose.
Then there was the naked chick on the motorcycle. It's almost as if the writer thought to himself, what's the most out of place thing I can put in a kids movie at the most illogical time in the movie?
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