Combustible Celluloid
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With: Seth Green, Matthew Lillard, Dax Shepard, Abraham Benrubi, Rachel Blanchard, Burt Reynolds, Ray Baker, Bonnie Somerville, Christina Moore, Danielle Cormack, Ethan Suplee
Written by: Jay Leggett, Mitch Rouse, from a story by Harris Goldberg, Tom Nursall, Fred Wolf
Directed by: Steven Brill
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for drug content, sexual material, language, crude humor and some violence
Running Time: 95
Date: 03/18/2013

Without a Paddle (2004)

2 Stars (out of 4)

Second Banana Boat

By Rob Blackwelder, SPLICEDwire

A threesome of comedy second-bananas star in Without a Paddle as childhood pals (and Central Casting clich├ęs) who reunite after the funeral of an adventurous friend (he died in a parachuting accident) for one "last chance to do something incredibly stupid together" -- they get lost in the Oregon woods while hunting for the missing loot of legendary skyjacker D.B. Cooper.

One guy is an over-achieving pantywaist physician (Seth Green, Scott Evil in Austin Powers), one's a slacker stuck in a responsibility-ducking rut (Matthew Lillard, Shaggy from the Scooby-Doo flicks), and one's a wisecracking lout (Ashton Kutcher's talent-deficient "Punk'd" sidekick Dax Shepard) who is rapidly approaching an age at which arrested development becomes inescapably pathetic.

But on this boating trip, all of them will overcome their hang-ups and discover that "being alive is the treasure" by way of predictable misadventures: going over waterfalls and having run-ins with bears, a redneck sheriff, heavy-set and heavily-armed hillbilly pot farmers, a mysterious mountain man (wild-bearded Burt Reynolds) and a pair of sexy tree-sitting flower children with shaved pits but hairy legs.

Each perfunctory episode in this forgettable flick is good for a few choice one-liners that stave off boredom. ("I don't have to out-run the bear. I just have to out-run you!") But the laughs aren't profuse enough and the performances aren't vibrant enough to forgive the picture's structureless, unimaginative plot.

Barely competent director Steven Brill (Little Nicky, Mr. Deeds) makes little effort beyond letting his actors ad-lib a little when they seem to be on a roll. But even the usually charismatic Lillard and Green -- who clearly make the best of such freedoms in better films -- appear to be deliberately coasting to an easy paycheck in here.

Deficient in dozens of harmless and inoffensive ways, Paddle is bad almost by default, as if everyone involved had a few yuks then bailed out mid-stream with their money -- like Cooper did in mid-air when he disappeared in 1971 with a $200,000 ransom -- leaving the movie adrift and appropriately titled.

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