Strange Wilderness Blu-ray offers decent video and audio, but overall it's a poor Blu-ray release
From Happy Madison Productions comes a comedy with bite. In order to save his wildlife TV
show from being cancelled, dim-witted host Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn) and his half-baked crew
of misfits have one last chance to turn the ratings around. Desperate to stay on the air, Peter
hatches a plan to track down the most elusive beast on Earth - Bigfoot. But when killer
pygmies, frisky border guards and an amorous turkey threaten to cut their expedition short, the
crew of Strange Wilderness will soon discover that nature is one bad mother.
For more about Strange Wilderness and the Strange Wilderness Blu-ray release, see Strange Wilderness Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on March 25, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
No matter how many sea lions are eaten each year by sharks, it never seems like enough.
Perhaps it's time to retire the old "Outdoors Comedy" once and for all. It seems like the last one
worth anything was 1988's The Great Outdoors, which starred a pair of
"they-don't-make-'em-like-they-used-to" comedians, John Candy (Uncle Buck) and Dan
Strange Wilderness is simply painful to watch. Oddly enough, it offers plenty of laughs, but
in between those laughs is a movie so poorly-written, lackadaisically-paced, and
haphazardly-executed that it becomes an exercise in frustration, futility, and fruitlessness. Granted,
it's unfair to expect all that much out of this sort of movie, but when a film must resort to
mentioning the inclusion of an "amorous turkey" on the back of the box, one can safely assume
said movie isn't destined for a sweep at the Oscars. At least they got the "turkey" part right.
Don't I look sharp on a Sharp?
"Strange Wilderness" was once a hit television show but has since fallen on hard times now that
its popular host is long gone, replaced by his not-so-well-to-do son, Peter (Steve Zahn, Rescue Dawn).
When the show's ratings tank thanks to its poor management by an absentminded and
drug-using cast and crew, the network gives the show two weeks before being replaced by
another program. Desperate to do something to save their show, Peter and the gang receive a
break when Bill Calhoun (Joe Don Baker, Cape Fear) provides them with evidence that
Bigfoot is alive and well in Ecuador. The team sets out on a quest to make what could be the
biggest discovery in the history of nature television that would surely save them from
cancellation -- assuming they can remain sober and
drug-free along the way.
For such an insignificant Comedy, Strange Wilderness offers up a plethora of big-name
Assemble a cast of Steve Zahn, Jonah Hill (Superbad), Kevin
Heffernan (Beerfest), Justin
Long (Live Free or Die
Hard), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2), Joe
Baker, and Ernest Borgnine (The Wild Bunch), and
few movie fans would outright refuse to give the movie a shot.
It's an impressive list that would appeal to several generations of cinephiles, and they've come
together for a movie that flops on almost every level. Fortunately, they all deliver the goods;
they're simply in a movie that gives them little to work with. The trio of older actors -- Baker,
Borgnine, and Patrick -- turn in completely over-the-top efforts and almost make the movie
worth watching. Of the others, Justin Long is the best of the bunch as a stoner without a clue.
The dialogue amongst the cast is generally witty, but the positives stop there. Strange
Wilderness is just too, well, strange, for its own good. The idea of tackling the
plethora of nature shows that have been a staple of television for years is a good one, but it
never really manages to seal the deal. The movie is sometimes funny, sometimes dull, and
sometimes somewhere in the middle, tending towards the middle of the three. It's far too reliant
on genital jokes that always play as too disgusting or too unfunny, and oftentimes as both. The
film is hard-"R" material through-and-through, but generally to the detriment of the film.
Strange Wilderness roams onto Blu-ray with a satisfactory but generally underwhelming
1080p transfer framed in a 2.35:1 window. Detail ranges from solid to subpar from beginning to
end. Most impressive is the visible detail on the more mundane objects seen throughout the film:
the pavement on the road, leaves, foliage, and tree trunks, and the siding on the "Strange
Wilderness" RV. Elsewhere -- facial detail, for example -- is adequate but far from exemplary.
Colors are generally natural in tint and the film never appears too warm or too dull. Between the
outdoors locales and the varied shades of clothing worn by the characters, the image never lacks for
color but they don't always look as defined and natural as those seen in the best of transfers.
Many scenes also take on a soft and unfocused appearance. Flesh tones are fine, and black levels
are deep and dark. Strange Wilderness offers up a sufficient high definition video transfer,
but hardly one that will impress longtime fans of the format.
Strange Wilderness comes to Blu-ray with a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 lossless soundtrack. This
a bland, mostly front- and dialogue-driven generic soundtrack that offers only an occasional spurt
sonic excitement. The music heard throughout offers a nice presence across the front; it's
sometimes seemingly a bit low in volume compared to dialogue and sound effects, but clear and
pleasing. Bass is occasionally both heard and felt, the rumbling of the "Strange Wilderness" RV as
pulls out for the trip to Ecuador serves as a good example. The track features precious few
effects. There are several sequences that take place outdoors, such as a campfire sequence in
chapter seven that
ripe for a true surround-sound experience, but it offers little in the way of immersive
atmospherics. A barrage of gunfire opens up the soundstage to fine effect in the final act of the
shots fly out from every corner and explode through each speaker. It's a short burst of
in an otherwise dull soundtrack that compliments the movie well enough but never elevates it to
Strange Wilderness roams onto Blu-ray with a few supplements. Cooker's Song
(480p, 5:48) is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of one of the film's musically-inclined
scenes. The Turkey (480p, 6:47) looks at how the "amorous turkey" sequence was set-up
filmed. What Do We Do? (480p, 6:06) examines the application of Justin Long's unique
makeup and the filming of the "roundtable discussion" sequence. Reel Comedy: 'Strange
Wilderness' (480p, 21:16) is an extended interview piece with various members of the cast as
they recount the plot and their character's traits and motivations. Finally, a series of 13 deleted
scenes (480p, 22:13) conclude this supplemental package.
In the not-so-great tradition of Without a Paddle: Nature's
Calling, Strange Wilderness is a critical and box-office flop. Whereas the former
was a mostly innocent yet nevertheless lame-brained film, the latter is just too vulgar, both
and visually, the film seemingly an excuse to cram as many crude gags as possible into its
85-minute runtime. Whereas the formula might work in a movie with a superior script and a
like the better of the Judd Apatow Comedies, Strange Wilderness is a hodgepodge of
and genital humor centered around a loosely-structured plot with nothing going for it save for a
of witty banter and the presence and several good actors doing their best with the material.
Paramount brings Strange Wilderness to Blu-ray with results that are satisfactory for the
content of the film. Neither the video nor audio presentations rank among the best of the format
has to offer, and the included supplements are few and not all that interesting. Fans of any of
actors might want to give this one a rent, but most are advised to skip it altogether.
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