Nature Calls [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Magnolia Pictures
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo (17th May 2013).
The Film

This movie was so incredibly stupid.

I just needed to get that out there now, in case someone is just skimming reviews to find out if this is worth a sh*t. It really isn’t. “Nature Calls” (2012) is just another waste of talent on numerous levels. I’m not saying that there weren’t more than a few moments were I was chuckling at the attempted comedy on screen, but the sheer stupidity of the story and the directionless script had me wondering how anyone got the funding to make this.

Patton Oswald is a talented guy. I think he’s incredibly funny. Unfortunately, he also seems to suffer from the same condition many other very funny comedians do: when he gets a film vehicle, he suddenly sucks. I don’t get it either. He writes reviews about films online – hilarity ensues at the start of each sentence. He tweets – comedic brevity working perfectly. You put him in the lead role of a film – flatline. Maybe I missed the point and he wasn’t actually supposed to be funny here. His character, Randy, does seem to be slightly deranged. His obsessive need to be the scout leader he saw his father as has clearly affected his perception of reality in some way. As I think about it now, maybe this is how I was supposed to view the film. Probably not, but it makes it more tolerable if you do.

I was concerned to see Johnny Knoxville in a lead role. He’s funny when someone is hitting him in the crotch, or an alligator is biting his nipple while he winces in pain. But as an actor the guy’s never done anything for me. Well, strike that, he has annoyed the shit out of me on multiple occasions. Counter to his usual parts, here he plays the successful a**hole brother of Randy, Kirk, who made his fortune installing ATM machines. In Kirk’s inner circle are his wife Janine (Maura Tierney, the very definition of a gorgeous cougar if I’ve ever seen one) and Gentry (Rob Riggle), his boisterous, obnoxious, impulsive head of security.

Rob Riggle makes this movie. He isn’t doing anything different here; it’s just his usual shtick that works so damn well that I can’t get enough of the man’s brand of humor. He’s ridiculous almost to the point of insanity; he’s loud and brash and a complete nutcase. But dammit, he makes me laugh harder than anyone around him. Even some of the film’s outtakes showed that the other cast members had a hard time maintaining composure around him.

The rest of the cast is mostly comprised of well-known standup comedians. Patrice O’Neal, who sadly passed away last year, ironically plays a scout’s father who is presumed dead. Adding the most gravitas to the film is Darrell Hammond as a park ranger who seems to bat for both teams. His character added some of the funniest moments to the film, but there isn’t nearly enough of him.

None of the children that Randy takes out camping have developed personalities, so it’s hard to say any of them stood out. A few do “cute” things or whatever, but essentially they exist as one mass of adolescence. They weren’t annoying; in fact, sometimes they were kinda funny with their actions. But we never really know any of them enough to care one way or the other. Well, the film does focus on Kirk’s adopted African son, Dwande (Thiecoura Cissoko), but the damn kid is practically a mute throughout the entire film. He mutters a few words but otherwise looks completely out of place because he barely interacts. And I don’t think it’s acting. The film introduces a lot of conflicts, like Randy & Kirk’s hatred of each other, but nothing gets explored at all. Maybe I shouldn’t be looking so deeply into a film about Boy Scouts camping, but if the laughs aren’t sustaining it (which they aren’t) then I have to figure they’ve got a reason for me to watch buried in there somewhere.

Doubtful.

Video

There’s not much good news here, either. The 2.40:1 (why does this film need to be scope?) 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image is weak. There’s a scene early in the film with Knoxville at a grocery store, and the middle of the image has a weird blur around his head, almost like extreme edge enhancement or something. Black levels are faded and dull. There is zero depth to the image whatsoever. Colors look decent enough, but hardly what you’d expect out of an HD source. If you had told me this was an upconverted DVD I probably wouldn’t have argued it wasn’t. I’ve seen worse, but this ain’t pretty.

Audio

The English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround sound track mixed at 48kHz/24-bit remains mostly lifeless until we hit the film’s climax, then it just has a faint pulse. Surrounds are employed a bit, but it’s so minimal that there’s little impact on the listening experience. Expect a lot of front and center activity, mostly. The LFE has a very minor presence, popping up occasionally to give the track a little punch. Subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired and Spanish.

Extras

There’s not much here, just a couple behind-the-scenes featurettes, outtakes, and some theatrical trailers.

“Nature Calls Behind the Scenes” (1080/60p) is a featurette that runs for 4 minutes and 52 seconds. This is just a handful of interviews with the cast & crew. As I might’ve guessed, the film was inspired by writer/director Todd Rohal’s experiences in Boy Scouts as a child.

Outtakes reel (1080p) runs for 2 minutes and 58 seconds – I laughed more during these than at any point during the movie.

“AXS TV: A Look at Nature Calls” (1080/60p) featurette runs for 4 minutes and 32 seconds. Standard EPK stuff, with interviews culled from the same session the first promo piece used. Rob Riggle kills it, though.

Two of the film’s theatrical trailers (1080p) are included:

- Green band trailer runs for 2 minutes and 23 seconds.
- Red band trailer runs for 2 minutes and 35 seconds.

The disc is, of course, full of Magnolia title bonus trailers (1080p) for:

- “Deadfall” runs for 2 minutes and 11 seconds.
- “2 Days in New York” runs for 1 minute and 54 seconds.
- “Goon” runs for 1 minute and 26 seconds.
- “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” runs for 2 minutes and 13 seconds.
- “AXS TV promo” runs for 39 seconds.

As usual, the bookmarks feature and a BD-Live link are included as well.

Packaging

The single 25 GB disc comes housed in a standard Blu-ray keep case.

Overall

The people here are, for the most part, very funny. But in this film, they are not. This was a stupid film that I’d really only recommend if you absolutely have to watch something that requires no need for attention in any way.

The Film: D+ Video: C+ Audio: B- Extras: D+ Overall: D

 


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