Strange Wilderness (R)

Review Date: February 1st, 2008

In a movie like this, you expect the story to be secondary to the gags. But in Strange Wilderness' case, the gags are desperate and increasingly feeble--so there's not much purpose to the proceedings.


This limp farce from Adam Sandler's Happy Madison productions stars Steve Zahn as the host of a wildlife television series that's slipping in the ratings. In a desperate effort to save the show, he and his production team embark on a journey to South America to find Bigfoot. There's the usual quotient of drug references and sexual innuendo, as well as the obligatory slapstick shenanigans. But everybody, on both sides of the camera, just seems to be going through the motions. The film's low point, and there are many to choose from, may be when a turkey attaches itself to Zahn's manhood. Even if the joke was funny--and it's not--it is dragged out endlessly, until all humor has been drained from the scene. It's sometimes painful to see a comedy as unfunny as this, especially when there are good people involved. The film also bears a 2006 copyright, indicating that it's been cooling its reels on a studio shelf somewhere for the last year. Too bad it didn't stay there.


For all of his comedic abilities, Steve Zahn couldn't save Daddy Day Care--and he can't save Strange Wilderness. His team members include Allen Covert, Justin Long, Ashley Scott, Jonah Hill, Kevin Heffernan and Peter Dante, all of whom have been funnier elsewhere. A few of the actors appear to lose interest midway through, and the film flounders as a whole. Some of the more familiar faces in the cast, including Joe Don Baker, Harry Hamlin, Robert Patrick and the indefatigable Ernest Borgnine, have the good sense, or the good luck, to get on and off the screen as quickly as possible, thereby saving themselves any further embarrassment. The actors deserve better, and so does the audience.


Fred Wolf, a one-time stand-up comic best known as the head writer on Saturday Night Live during the 1990s, makes his feature directorial debut here--and it's nothing to boast about. Sandler must've liked it, however, since Wolf's next film--I Know What Boys Like--was also produced under the auspices of Happy Madison, and is due out later this year. Wolf also wrote the film along with Peter Gaulke, which just happens to be the name of Zahn's character. Pretty funny, no? No, it's not. Not at all.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.