What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this over-the-top gross-out comedy from Adam Sandler's production company is riddled with crude jokes, some of which are (most likely quite intentionally) offensive: Characters make fun of how Mexicans speak and talk about women as if they're nothing more than sex objects. Even animals are sexualized (yuck). There's some nudity -- random women dancing bare-breasted in thongs and close-ups of male genitalia -- and frequent drug use (particularly marijuana). The characters swear a blue streak, especially favoring "f--k" and derivations thereof).
What's the story?
Wildlife expert Peter Gaulke's (Steve Zahn) nature show -- which he inherited from his TV legend dad -- is on the brink of cancellation. His crew is made up of stoners, and his knowledge of animal life is dubious at best (sample voiceover: "Bears are a proud people, though they aren't people per se"). But he has one last shot to save the show: A can't-miss episode that will win over his station manager (Jeff Garlin). Enter flimsy plot device: A tipster says he's spotted Bigfoot and can lead Peter to where the creature lives. If Peter manages to catch the legend in action, the show is saved.
Is it any good?
The biggest mystery in STRANGE WILDERNESS isn't whether the crew will ever find Bigfoot (viewers will likely be way past caring by the time that plot point is resolved). It's how producers managed to wrangle a fairly good cast and still turn out such a dud. There's no storytelling, and the jokes are lifeless or just plain bad. Consider this: The film's "highlight" is a gag that has a turkey clinging to Peter's private parts with its beak.
Zahn has potential. He's slacker-sleepy and likable, delivering jokes without overselling them. But his insouciant charm sadly does him no good in this lackluster comedy. Really, he deserves so much better, and Judd Apatow muse Jonah Hill, who plays Peter's assistant, ought to have steered clear as well.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why Hollywood is motivated to produce gross-out comedies. What's their appeal? Why are some successful (and actually funny), while others fall flat? What makes a good comedy? When does humor fall under the category of "in poor taste"? Who determines what counts as "bad taste" to begin with?