The Naked Wanderer
R0 - Australia - Umbrella Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: James-Masaki Ryan (23rd August 2020).
The Film

"The Naked Wanderer" (2019)

Jake (played by Angus McLaren) is an extremely postiive guy in a seemingly happy relationship with Jasmine (played by Megan Smart), but when he proposes to her in the middle of the beautiful ocean, she confesses she couldn't stand his constant happiness and wanted to break up with him. For the first time, Jake feels unhappy and lost in his way, losing his girlfriend and also losing his job, where her father was his boss. In a way to get her back, he and his roommate Cameron (played by Callan Durlik) come up with an idea to walk 2,500km across Western Australia, as a charity stunt, sponsored by Cameron's millionaire uncle Brian (played by John Cleese) and covered by the media. The catch for the eyes though by the uncle is that Jake must be naked, wearing just a loincloth in his travel. Jake meets various people along the way, including Valerie Natasha Liu Bordizzo) who immediately steals his heart. But with Jasmine still on his mind, and Jasmine also on the trail, what decision will he make while on the soul searching journey?

The premise of "The Naked Wanderer" of a soul searcher at a crossroads in life on a lone journey is reminiscent of "Eat, Pray, Love" or "Wild", and the romantic comedy angle of a guy trying to re-impress his ex is very similar to "Forgetting Sarah Marshall". All these films and others similar are not only about inner soul searching but also showcasing the exotic landscapes in the process. With so many checkmarks in "The Naked Wanderer" in a list of rom-com cliches, it makes it hard to stand out among everything that came before it. Sure it showcases the natural beauty of the Western Australian coastline, with a near naked main character for most of the film, but the humor, the interactions, the outcome, and even the seemingly random singing sequence in one scene all have little in terms of originality. With road films, it is also very important to have a great cast of quirky and memorable subcharacters met along the way. Valerie's friends Keith (played by Jamie Timony) and Nikki (played by Lucy-Rose Leonard) don't give too much personality to the roles. Eli (played by Alan Little) who is also walking and frequently meets up with Jake along the way might be one of the more interesting characters, but too little is seen of him and his story. Cleese may be top billed, but his role is closer to being a cameo as he filmed everything remotely in the UK and his interactions with almost all characters are through video screens. A comedy legend, though he literally is phoning it in with his performance as the cranky millionaire.

The character of Jasmine is a bit of a confusing one. She clearly is over with Jake in the opening sequence, but once he starts his charity walk, she is right beside him in front of the media cameras. She has no financial gain by being there as the $200,000 from Mr. King is being donated to children's hospitals. She doesn't have any social standing to gain either, so it's not particularly clear what her motivation is. She's not trying to sabotage things either, so her jealousy when Valerie enters the picture is also unusual. To say more positives, Jake and Valerie have some fairly good scenes together, both when they have their awkward moments falling for each other and some of the more sentimental ones along the way. Callan Durlik, who played the not-as-supportive-as-he-should-be Cameron also wrote the screenplay, and directed by Alan Lindsay, "The Naked Wanderer" plays everything safe in the comedy and the drama. It certainly looks visually excellent with the cinematography by Michael McDermott, with beautiful weather and scenery throughout. But for audiences looking for something deeper, they might find it elsewhere. For ones looking for something lighthearted, it's certainly fair to say the least.

Note this is a region 0 NTSC DVD

Video

Umbrella Entertainment presents the film in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio in the NTSC format. It has a very saturated color scheme throughout, making the browns of the dirt look closer to red and the blues of the skies looking very bold. While it visually looks appealing in the colors, there are some issues with macroblocking in certain scenes, especially in the skies. There are no other major issues in the transfer, with stable colors, correct looking framing, and clarity throughout.

The film's runtime is 101:20.



















Audio

English Dolby Digital 5.1
The 5.1 track sounds very pleasing. Dialogue is center based, with the left, right, and surrounds used effectively for effects such as the natural sounds of the coast, along the score by Mark D'Angelo and the occasional music tracks. Dialogue, music, and effects are all well balanced with one never overpowering the other. There is very little to fault with the audio track.

There are no subtitles offered.

Extras

Unfortunately no extras are provided. There is no menu, as the film starts when the disc is booted an stopped when the film ends. Some featurettes were posted online on YouTube, with a few embedded below alongside the trailer.


"Hear from The Naked Wanderer cast", with Angus McLaren, Callan Durlik, Natasha Liu Bordizzo, and Alan Little


Footage from the world premiere at the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre.

Packaging

The packaging says region 4 only, but is in fact region 0.

Overall

"The Naked Wanderer" doesn't have quite much in terms of originality in the world road-trip rom-com films, but it certainly looks excellent with the beautiful scenery of western Australia showcased. The Umbrella Entertainment DVD looks fine, but unfortunately without any extras.

The Film: C- Video: B- Audio: A Extras: F- Overall: C-

 


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