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Polar-opposite brothers Randy and Kirk never saw eye-to-eye, but their rivalry is taken to a new level when Randy hijacks Kirk's son's sleepover, taking the boys on a Scout Trip to remember.
For more about Nature Calls and the Nature Calls Blu-ray release, see Nature Calls Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on February 2, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 1.5 out of 5.
Starring: Patton Oswalt, Johnny Knoxville, Rob Riggle, Patrice O'Neal
Director: Todd Rohal
» See full cast & crew
Nature Calls Blu-ray Review
The anti-Moonrise Kingdom.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, February 2, 2013
If you thought Moonrise Kingdom was too twee, here's a film about scouting that goes for R-rated humor and sacrilegious sight-gags instead. Unfortunately, Nature Calls is lost in the woods without a comedic compass. The work of writer/director Todd Rohal—the crazed brain behind last year's The Catechism Cataclysm—the movie is tonally inconsistent, aggressively stupid, and about as funny as a first-aid lesson. It's a mess, to put it plainly, and watching it you get the sense that the director, actors, and crew each had different ideas about what sort of film they were making. Is it supposed to be a shaggy, Bad News Bears-style underdog story? A distinctly adult raunch-fest? A touching Wes Anderson-lite ode to fathers and sons and brothers and childhood? There are strands of all three here, but Rohal just can't tie them together in a knot that holds. Nature Calls was one of the worst theatrical releases of 2012, hands down—it currently has a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes—and I have a feeling that rather than developing some sort of cult following, it will be promptly forgotten on home video. So bad it's good just doesn't apply here.
As a longtime Patton Oswalt fan, it was sad to see him slumming here as Randy Stevens, a down-and-out second-generation scoutmaster. His elderly father's troop was one of the most prestigious in the nation, with 90+ boys, but Randy's own has dwindled down to a small group of entirely disinterested and over-mothered middle schoolers. And he's about to lose them entirely. On the eve of a parking lot campout, Randy's superficial, nature-hating ATM salesman brother, Kirk (Johnny Knoxville)—the Cain to his Able—woos the kids away to a sleepover for his adopted Kenyan son, Dwande, and entertains them with twelve high-def televisions hooked up in sequence.
In one last-ditch attempt to impress his father—whom he brings along in a wheelchair—Randy loads up his van, rustles up fellow deranged troop leaders Ivan (Ivan Dimitrov) and Little Eddie (Eddie Rouse), and essentially kidnaps the scouts from Kirk's house, taking them for a permission slip-less weekend camping trip in the wild and forbidden back half of Munnson State Park. When Kirk wakes up to find the kids gone, he leaves his ex-Peace Corps wife (Maura Tierna) at home to stave off the scouts' angry moms and goes out in search of the troop with his idiotic pals, the horribly sexist Gentry (The Daily Show's Rob Riggle) and scout father Mr. Caldwell (the late comic Patrice O'Neal).
That's basically it for plot; the rest of the film devolves into a series of absurd and not even remotely funny situational gags as Randy takes the boys deeper into the woods, intending to teach them survival tactics but bungling it at every turn. They collectively piss at the entrance to the park and draw the ire of Ranger Deakins (ex-SNL impressionist Darrell Hammond), who turns out to be the cross-dressing king/queen of a redneck swinger party. They use Randy's slumped over dad as a test dummy for their first aid lesson. And when the kids spot a naked woman riding a motorcycle through the park—don't ask, it's never explained—they march along afterwards chanting "Tits! Buns! Tits! Buns!"
Eventually, Kirk and his goons do catch up to the troop, triggering the inevitable brotherly showdown, which leaves one of them mounted to a stretcher shaped as a crucifix, with a Bluetooth earpiece melted to the side of his head. It's dopey, juvenile stuff that wouldn't even play well with a teen audience—swearing kids! swearing around kids! gross-out jokes!—but since the film is presumably intended for adults, the complete comedic misfire is even sadder.
Rohal's script and direction are all over the place, giving the film the tonal ADHD that comes with a complete lack of focus. It's not like he didn't have some talented performers at his disposal—it's that they all appear to be acting in drastically different films. Patton Oswalt largely plays it straight— beleaguered, frustrated, impatient—while Johnny Knoxville and Rob Riggle go totally unhinged, mistaking loudness and sneering crassness for hilariousness. As for the kids, they make little to no impression. Besides Dwande, who becomes the film's hero of sorts, none of them are developed enough to stand out, which keeps Nature Calls from being the woodland Bad News Bears that it so wants to be. Avoid this one like a patch of poison sumac.
Nature Calls Blu-ray, Video Quality
Nature Calls blows, and it's 1080p/AVC-encoded Blu-ray transfer isn't so hot either. The movie was shot on the ever-popular and capable Red One camera, but the picture is almost perpetually soft, lacking truly fine detail in all but the tightest closeups. I'm not sure if this was due to an inept focus puller, cheap lenses, or whether the image has been given a slight noise reduction daubing—my money's on all three—but the picture just isn't up to the standard set by previous movies shot on the Red system. And then there's the flat lighting and dull production design, which scream "low-budget comedy." The color grading goes for a mostly realistic look, and both saturation and contrast seem decently balanced, with no ruddy skin tones or overly crushed blacks, but it's hard to be impressed by the video quality. Along with the softness, you'll also notice some slight compression artifacting at times if you pixel peep. Not that any of this matters much. The film made less than $400 theatrically—playing on two screens for one weekend—and I doubt it'll move many Blu-ray units.
Nature Calls Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The movie features a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track that gets the job done capably, with Boy Scout-like humility. That is, there's nothing that really stands out here, audio-wise, but there are no real slip-ups either. Most of the mix is staked down in the front channels, but ambience and occasional effects do fly loose in the surround speakers, from wind and bird calls and insect clamor to fireworks exploding raucously in all directions. Backing up the onscreen action is some chipper original music by Ryan Miller (Safety Not Guaranteed) and Joseph Stevens (Eastbound & Down), which has suitable clarity and presence. Most importantly—or least, perhaps, in this case—the inane dialogue is always cleanly recorded, balanced at the top of the mix, and easily understood. For that that might need or want them, the disc also includes English SDH and Spanish subtitles.
Nature Calls Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nature Calls Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
No contest. Nature Calls is the worst movie I've seen so far this year. It's aggressively dumb—to the extent of being insulting to its audience— and it just isn't funny. At all. I can remember laughing once, but it was that sort of sarcastic, indignant laugh you do sometimes when you can't believe what you're seeing. Don't let the semi-decent cast fool you. Patton Oswalt and Patrice O'Neal—who died shortly after production wrapped—are entirely wasted here, and don't get me started on Johnny Knoxville and Rob Riggle. You should earn some sort of merit badge for being able to sit through this thing. I wouldn't even advise a cautious rental. Just skip it.
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Nature Calls Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Nature Calls Blu-ray - October 15, 2012
Magnolia Home Entertainment, in an early alert to retailers has announced the Blu-ray release of Nature Calls. Directed by Todd Rohal, the comedy stars Patton Oswalt (Ratatouille), Johnny Knoxville (Jackass 3), Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street) and, in his last film ...
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