Steve Zahn and His Crew

Like any film critic or avid movie watcher, I love DVDs. It’s not an unhealthy love, but rather a constructive one. The joy of DVDs as opposed to the antiquated VHS tapes is that they come with special features… if you’re lucky.

It has happened many times in the past that I have really disliked a film, but when I revisited it on DVD, it’s been a better experience. Such is the case with Strange Wilderness.

Before you leap from your computer to snatch up a copy of this DVD, do realize that Strange Wilderness is such a woefully awful movie that it doesn’t take much to improve it. In fact, we’re a little less than halfway through the year, and it’s still floating somewhere in my ten worst films of the year list.

There are two ways a DVD can be better than the theatrical release. In some cases, the movie works better on DVD. Sometimes it works better on the smaller screen by playing out more comfortably as a television show (like The Game Plan). Sometimes it is too long and needs to be watched from the comfort of your home, where you can pause or even come back to it days later (like Into the Wild). Sometimes the film doesn’t live up to its epic nature on the big screen but seems more appropriate in a smaller format (like King Arthur).

I wouldn’t say that Strange Wilderness the film was improved by a transfer onto DVD, although it wasn’t as hard to watch as it was in the theaters. I suppose this was because Paramount didn’t screen it for critics, so I had to fork over eight bucks to see it on opening day. I watched the movie again on DVD between late-night feedings with my newly born son in the hospital, so I imagine that the movie didn’t seem as childish as the crying baby that was pooping its diaper next to me.

The film follows Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn), a slacker who inherited his father’s nature show. The problem is that Peter and the gang of idiots running the show are better at smoking dope than making good television. Their ratings have plummeted, and their only saving grace is that they have a lead on the whereabouts of the real Bigfoot. The crew heads out on a road trip to photograph the legendary creature and save their show.

I still wouldn’t recommend the film, but the DVD has some interesting elements to it. The movie has its highlights during the fake nature show scenes, which is essentially 1970s vintage footage with Zahn’s dopey voice-over. While I would have like to have seen more of the nature footage with zany voice-overs, there is still 20 minutes of deleted scenes that are at least as funny as the film itself (which, if you’ll remember, isn’t saying much).

There are several behind-the-scenes moments, including a ridiculously unnecessary 7-minute documentary chronicling how the crew attached an animatronic turkey to Zahn’s junk. Still, the real funny moments on the DVD come from Comedy Central’s Reel Comedy spotlight on the film. Lisa Kushell is a funny host who pulls more laughs out of the cast than the filmmakers do in the entire movie.

THE UPSIDE: The special features are funnier than the film.

THE DOWNSIDE: The film still ain’t that funny.

ON THE SIDE: Lisa Kushell is funnier in the Comedy Central spot than she is on the Disney Channel show Cory in the House.

Grade: C-


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