Gormless adventure comedy Without A Paddle finds three slacker pals (Seth Green, Matthew Lillarrd, Dax Shepherd) setting out in a canoe on a treasure hunt in the Oregon wilds to fulfil a childhood promise to a dead friend. Along the way they're besieged by two murderous dope-harvesting hillbillies, a mobile phone-eating grizzly, a mysterious old Mountain Man and a pair of "hairy but hot" hippie chicks residing halfway up a gigantic redwood. At least the soundtrack's up to scratch.
It's a shameless retread of City Slickers, in which the main protagonists are way more obnoxious by dint of their youth. Indeed, the comparisons are so clunkingly obvious as to insult the intelligence: firmly in the Billy Crystal role is Matthew Lillard as Jerry, while Seth Green, as the weedy Dr Dan, plays much the same part Daniel Stern did in Slickers, taking the brunt of the pratfalls, including being mistaken for a cub by a laughably animatronic bear. Burt Reynolds, meanwhile - who pops up in a homage to the far darker Deliverance - should hang his head in shame, taking care to hold onto his toupee first.
"FALLS BACK ON UNFUNNY CLICHÉS"
This is a film that's ashamed of itself - and it shows. While striving for a bit of liberalism (ain't we City types the real stoopid ones) almost every scene then throws in the towel and falls back on a clutch of unfunny country-livin' clichés, such as hillbillies catching salmon by dynamiting a river. And with Federal law seemingly dictating that no mainstream US comedy should be complete without a soul-searching denouement, you also get the hushed revelation that, "Being alive is the treasure". Bless. The music, featuring Leadbelly and Blind Melon, may be the one redeeming element, but it's not enough to save this flimsy canoe from sinking like a stone.
Without A Paddle is released in UK cinemas on 31st December 2004.