Strange Wilderness is the latest release from Adam Sandler’s production company, Happy Madison. In the film Steve Zahn plays the well-meaning TV host Peter Gaulke, who is trying to restore his deceased Father’s nature show to the level of success it previously enjoyed. The movie contains Sandler film veterans Allen Covert (the lead in Grandma’s Boy) and Peter Dante. Jonah Hill, who played the quick witted and determined Seth in Superbad, is also part of the fictional show’s crew. Justin Long, who played minor but amusing roles in the comedies Walk Hard and The Break Up is also along for the ride, and is clearly having a great time playing the show’s pot-head camera man. Considering all the comedic talent involved in Strange Wilderness, one would figure at worst the film would be a moderately entertaining comedy. However, even for a stoner comedy Strange Wilderness seems half backed, containing very few genuine laughs.
The film’s premise is as a simple as you might expect. After Peter’s Boss, played by Jeff Garlin, yet another funny actor who is not funny in this film, tells Peter he is about to cancel the show Peter decides to track down and film Big Foot to gain some much needed ratings and save the show.
The whole movie feels as though a group of friends got high, got a video camera, wrote a very thin plot summary, and then decided to try and make a movie. Most film scripts are over a hundred pages, and I’m really curious to find out if Strange Wilderness’ script is even over fifteen pages. The actors often resort to just yelling their unfunny lines in a sad attempt to make their lines somewhat humorous. Except in the case of Jonah Hill, who just uses a weak accent that doesn’t sound like it belongs to any particular region. With the exception of Justin Long, the actors seem just as lazy as the script in attempting to generate laughs. However, the film is not without comical moments entirely. The voiceovers of the animals in their habitat always prove to enjoyable, and are truly the best part of the film. Unfortunately, the voiceovers make up about ten percent of the film, so the audience has a lot of downtime to prepare for their next laughs.
The film’s ending pretty much sums up the whole movie. No one says anything particularly funny, then the actors start laughing and that’s it. The scene looks like something that belongs in the gag reel. It appears as if the filmmakers and actors are saying, "we didn’t take this thing seriously at all and we can’t believe this is actually getting released in theaters."