Strange Wilderness: a box office dump

Strange Wilderness’s Steve Zahn has made a name for himself in Hollywood as the sometimes zany, but loveable sidekick. Hailing from Cooper High School, Zahn has shined in secondary roles in movies like Rescue Dawn, Sahara, and Saving Silverman, but his jump from sidekick to lead man in Strange Wilderness is a rocky one, just like the film itself.

The first 15 minutes of Strange Wilderness are promising as Peter Gaulke (Steve Zahn)’s crew are introduced (there are a lot of young talented actors such as Jonah Hill (Superbad) and Justin Long (Dodgeball) who give brief and unfulfilling performances), and the premise of the movie is set. The plot is simple: with a failing television show that Gaulke inherits after his father dies, Gaulke must make a last ditch effort to save the show his father created. Though the plot seems like it could produce some comical moments, it comes nowhere close.

Director Fred Wolf, who has made a career out of writing and directing terrible movies (Joe Dirt and Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star), once again disappoints. As a former head writer for SNL in the golden days of Chris Farley, David Spade, and Adam Sandler, Wolf’s sense of humor in his movies seems to be out of date and doesn’t reflect the comedic timing that he once had a flare for.

The two things Strange Wilderness did do right were the “shock factor” and actor Peter Dante, especially when both are put together. Dante plays the loveable airhead (the same role he always plays) that is always down for everything, even at his own expense. Dante’s role in Strange Wilderness is brief, but every single scene he’s in (especially the scene in which a shark bites off his arm) is hilarious, and it’s a shame that he completely disappears from the movie halfway through.

Strange Wilderness is a train-wreck of a movie and may prove to be a career killer for the once promising Steve Zahn. What it lacks in creativity it makes up for with in stupidity, and not the good kind of stupidity either, the stupidity that makes you frown and shake your head, especially when you realize you can’t get that 88 minutes of your life back ever again.

by Ryan Shaver, staff writer