Here’s the deal. I don’t remember anything about the 2004 release of Without A Paddle. I guess it did some business; however, because someone working at Paramount, or should I say, who used to work at Paramount, came up with the harebrained scheme to deliver a direct to video sequel. This out of work crackpot also seems to have figured that returning any of the original’s cast was not a good idea; in fact, the brainstorm, here was that this film will have nothing at all to do with the first film. If that sounds like quality entertainment to you, you should drive around the streets of L.A. and offer this idiot a sandwich, because I guarantee you he’s out there somewhere with a “will work for food” sign under a highway on ramp. If he’s not, he oughta be.
Again, I never saw the original. I do know it at least had some known names in the cast, including Seth Green. Apparently it was about three guys who get lost out in the woods. Guess what this film’s about? Wrong!
Two high school buddies have drifted apart over the years. One of them continues to pine for a girl he only knew for one day. She was a radical kid at that time, protesting the dissection of rats in the science class. Wasn’t it frogs in your school? Anyway, years later and Ben’s now a lawyer. His friend Zack is a nurse working at a local nursing home where a dying patient wishes to see her long lost granddaughter before she goes. Zack offers to help, only to discover that this long lost girl is Heather, Ben’s radical puppy love. Legend has it she and another girl disappeared into the woods of Oregon where a mysterious creature has apparently been killing hikers for years. A local bar that looks like one I once saw in Ligonier, Pa. has a “wall of the dead” where pictures of the killed adventurers are displayed, including Heather, now “Earthchild”. The boys set off with her stepbrother Nigel, who is an annoying Brit. Long story short (I know, too late), they find the girls living in a fancy tree house as nature warriors, defending the woods from loggers and hunters. Some bad guys were following ,and antics straight out of Home Alone follow.
Here’s the breakdown. Stupid script. Bad acting. Unremarkable direction. And terrible CG attacking squirrels. Forget this one. I’m going to.
Without A Paddle 2 is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. I’ll admit that the transfer is a solid presentation. You get a full 1080p image through a pretty reliable AVC/MPEG-4 codec. The bit rate isn’t very impressive, clocking in under 20 mbps most of the time. Colors are still pretty solid. Black levels are also fairly good. This is a far better transfer than this film deserves. The low bit rate likely is responsible for the lack of vivid details, but the detail is unfortunately good enough to see how bad the CG work is. I suspect this film might be more enjoyable in SD.
The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 track doesn’t appear any more dynamic than a standard 5.1 track would. Surrounds are only used to accent rather silly moments like the squirrel attacks. During the river rapids action there is surprisingly little to bring out the atmosphere. Dialog is fine, and that’s pretty much all you might care about anyway.
Up The Creek – The Making Of…HD: Cast and crew talk about the film for this short 10 minute feature. I do need to reassess my opinion of their acting skills. They might be better than I thought. They pull off talking about this movie with a straight face.
Furious Nuts HD: This 7 minute documentary talks about the squirrels.
Tree House Tales SD: The one impressive part about this film was the beautiful tree house set. This 3 minute feature gives us a look at the construction and filming with it.
Gag Reel SD: 5 minutes of blown lines.
Deleted Scenes SD: What a joke. These are actually just alternative takes. There are 4 that total just over 1 minute. What a waste.
I have to admit to having total disdain for this film. It’s not ever funny. It just wastes your time. It’s a telling sign when the biggest star you have is football great Jerry Rice as a crazy scientist by the name of Hal Gore. One of the actors admits he didn’t ever see the original film. It looks like you weren’t alone there, buddy. I think there will be a lot of folks who will be able to say the same for this one. Another of the actors states that sometimes you can’t see the sense of humor in this film. Right you are, Sherlock. I had the same trouble. This is the kind of film that starts off badly with “nowhere to go but down”.